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Mikel Arteta’s old nightmare is revisited as Premier League opener beckons for Arsenal

Gunners slumped to defeat at Brentford in the first game of last season.
File photo dated 24-02-2022 of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who has told his Arsenal players that "tomorrow is the day" to achieve their target of a return to the Champions League by winning at the home of rivals Tottenham. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.

File photo dated 24-02-2022 of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who has told his Arsenal players that "tomorrow is the day" to achieve their target of a return to the Champions League by winning at the home of rivals Tottenham. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Former Ireland defender Damien Delaney suspects Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will have ‘a few nightmares’ as his side prepare to kick off the Premier League season against Crystal Palace on Friday night.

The Gunners were well beaten by newly promoted Brentford as they had the honour of playing the first game in last season’s Premier League, with another trip to face a London rival set to test Arteta’s side to the full.

Arsenal need a fast start to this season after blowing their chance to secure a top four finish and a return to the Champions League by losing their nerve in the final weeks of last season.

Now former Crystal Palace defender and Virgin Media Sport pundit Delaney suspects a defeat for Arsenal against his old club will set alarm bells ringing for Arteta.

“They had a big defeat on the Friday night to start the season at Brentford last year and the ‘same old Arsenal’ comments start to come up right away,” reflects Delaney, speaking to sundayworld.com as Virgin Media launched an offer to get a half-price package to watch Sky Sports, BT Sport and Premier Sports this season.

"If Arteta can get a win away at Selhurst Park, it would be a first step to convincing fans a page has been turned after that horrible end to last season, so this game is huge for him.

"It was hard to asses Arsenal and their manager last season. They went on great runs where they won a few games in a row, but they it all turned against them, so there was no consistency there.

“He got rid of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and that seemed to work for a while after he left, it galvanised the squad. Then they blew it when they had the Champions League in their grasp and it was such a low ending.

"The Arsenal fans have had a lot of years of disappointments and it will take a lot for them to get back to the point where the supporters believe in their team again.

"So the way football works these days, even though Arteta signed a new contract a few months back, he will be under huge pressure if Arsenal don’t start well and are not in a decent position by Christmas.

"What that position needs to be is hard to say. Does anyone know what the expectations are for Arsenal now? Do they need to be near the top four to be doing well? The bar has moved for them and they are not really a top four team any more.

"They want to get back to where they were under Arsene Wenger, but that was a long time ago now and they need to start beating the big teams again to give their fans some hope.”

Read Damien Delaney’s exclusive preview of the Premier League season in this weekend's Sunday World.

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