Like England before a major tournament, there is a genuine feeling this could be Arsenal’s time.
After ten goals in two pre-season matches against Chelsea and Sevilla, all without reply, Mikel Arteta’s men look ready to improve on a disappointing fifth-place finish last term.
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have joined their former Man City assistant at the Emirates – and everyone agrees those are two high-quality signings.
So all that remains is for Arsenal to go three-goals behind before half-time at Selhurst Park, sending fans into a meltdown – then the football will have truly returned.
In all seriousness, the last time the Gunners travelled to a local rival on the opening Friday night of a Premier League season, they were in west London but things went south pretty fast.
Newly-promoted Brentford cruised to a 2-0 victory over Arteta’s side last season and triggered Arsenal’s worst-ever start to a campaign in decades.
This time it’s Crystal Palace, and their old mate Patrick Vieira, who will play in front of a boisterous Eagles faithful with a summer’s worth of air in their lungs.
And despite a strong pre-season, there will be an element of the unknown when Arsenal take to the field on Friday night.
Although deeply experienced in the Premier League, the curtain-raiser will probably bring competitive Gunners debuts for Jesus and Zinchenko.
One player with no English top-flight experience whatsover is William Saliba, despite signing for Arsenal in 2019.
Haing spent the past three seasons on loan in Ligue 1, the 21-year-old looks set to make his competitive debut on Friday after an impressive pre-season.
Ben White, meanwhile, will be needed to fill-in at right-back with Takehiro Tomiyasu nursing an injury.
Kieran Tierney, Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe are also doubts, which means Arteta’s team looks set to be the same one which thrashed Chelsea and Sevilla…
How Arsenal could look against Crystal Palace
The Premier League is back and talkSPORT has it covered, with games on Friday, Saturday and Monday, beginning with Crystal Palace vs Arsenal on 5 August
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