Just when it seemed Crystal Palace might bring in a touch of quality, with a move for Southampton’s Jack Cork supposedly still in the pipeline and whispers that Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry might join on loan, all the air was let out of the south Londoners’ tires.
It’s as yet unclear why Tony Pulis left Selhurst Park less than 48 hours before the campaign kicks off, but the last thing they need right now is Arsenal away, with the Gunners in buoyant mood after downing an understrength Manchester City side 3-0 in the Community Shield.
Arsene Wenger’s charges are 1/4 to merely win at the Emirates, while 37/20 looks exceptional value about the hosts managing to do so by at least three goals.
Wenger will be desperate for his boys to right the wrongs of 17 August 2013, when Christian Benteke inspired a 3-1 opening-day win for Aston Villa in north London.
Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny all had to endure the wrath of the Emirates from the off in that fixture, and each are likely to feature at some stage here.
Add in leading contender for Premier League signing-of-the-summer Alexis Sanchez, the forward who has bagged 19 La Liga goals for Barcelona, taken England apart at Wembley and wowed with Chile at the World Cup all in the past 12 months, and Palace’s problems intensify.
Keith Millen takes over the Eagles as caretaker for the second time, having banked four points from four games after Ian Holloway left in October 2013, which included a brave 2-0 loss against Arsenal in his first game at the helm.
However, any hope that could be gained from that modest points-tally should be put into context. Palace only won their second match of the campaign, and their first under Millen, once Pulis was in situ and in the stands against Hull.
The Welshman went on to bank 11 Premier League wins in his 26 top-flight matches as coach, with six of them coming on the spin in March and April. He was that good.
Conversely, Millen leading the Eagles to opening-day success is unforeseeable, with Sanchez to score at least two at 11/2 rating a far superior bet than Palace winning at 9/1.