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WHAT a difference a year makes.

It was 12 months ago that Arsenal opened the new Premier League season with a chaotic defeat to new boys Brentford - things feel a lot different now after launching with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

4Striker Gabriel Jesus evades Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick DoucoureCredit: Reuters 4Star signing Gabriel Jesus celebrates Arsenal's opener from Gabriel MartinelliCredit: Reuters

After a big spending summer and scintillating pre-season build-up Mikel Arteta had pledged to take his side to the next level.

Key to the step up are the arrivals of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.

On this evidence, the plan may just work.

Jesus, signed for £45million from The Etihad, was at it from the off, charging forward and wriggling through red and blue shirts before seeing his effort blocked.

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The loose ball fell to Gabriel Martinelli, who fired wide of the far post when he really should have tucked it away.

Martinelli made up for that error with the opener, however, with Zinchenko playing a role.

The Ukrainian full-back, impressive and intelligent throughout, met Bukayo Saka's deep corner and headed back across goal for Martinelli to convert a free header.

Arteta's side dominated the opening half-an-hour or so but either side of the break things opened up with Palace creating chances for Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze - both of which Aaron Ramsdale was equal to.

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Arsenal had to ride their luck at times but, as the Eagles tried to turn the screw late on the Gunners managed to hold them back - with William Saliba particularly impressive at the back on his long awaited debut.

As Palace ramped up the pressure, Arteta reacted by sending on Kieran Tierney to try and shore things up.

Within minutes Saka had shot up the other end to seal the victory and leave them top of the table on the opening night.

It could have been more bombastic and convincing, but Arteta will have seen plenty of encouragement in the opening half that his side could blow a few teams away this season while there was also a touch of steel at times.

The Spaniard will head back across London much happier than this time last year.

4The Gunners celebrate Gabriel Martinelli's opener at Crystal PalaceCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun 4Gabriel Martinelli bagged the first goal of the Prem season on 47 minutesCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun

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Tags: arsenal transfer news premier league opener gabriel martinelli at crystal palace richard pelham kieran tierney gabriel jesus the gunners the gunners back across

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Dolphins tackle depth behind Terron Armstead a concern this preseason

The acquisition of Terron Armstead this offseason provided the Miami Dolphins the cornerstone left tackle they need to fortify the offensive line and allow new coach Mike McDaniel’s offense to flourish.

The 31-year-old bulldozer in the run game with three Pro Bowls to his credit, who also brings a veteran presence to an otherwise young offensive line, is perfect in that role. As he has his practice workload increasing deeper into training camp, Armstead is approaching a level of preparedness to return on his surgically repaired knee in time for the regular season.

But a concern with Armstead is how much time he has missed due to injury in his career. Since becoming a full-time starting left tackle for the New Orleans Saints in 2014, Armstead has missed 38 games, including nine last season with knee and elbow ailments.

What happens if he has to miss time with the Dolphins?

The Dolphins’ depth at tackle has appeared troubling in training camp. Second-year player Larnel Coleman, a 2021 seventh-round pick, and Greg Little, traded for in training camp of 2021, are the backup tackles on the depth chart with Austin Jackson the starter opposite Armstead at right tackle. Jackson and starting left guard Liam Eichenberg have experience at left tackle over the past two seasons, but moving them would also create another hole on the line.

Little missed Saturday’s preseason game and was again held out of Tuesday drills, deemed “day to day” by McDaniel with an undisclosed injury. That left Coleman to play 93 percent of offensive snaps in the exhibition against the Buccaneers at left tackle. Meanwhile, Kion Smith played 76 percent of offensive snaps at right tackle after Jackson made his exit.

Both Coleman and Smith allowed critical sacks of third-string rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson that halted drives in the first half of Saturday’s action. It leaves many wondering if Coleman can step up if called upon.

“I’ve seen him as having a very good camp, and I see him having the ability to continue the process and have an even better camp. But it’s been far from perfect,” McDaniel said on Tuesday of Coleman’s performance in an elevated role both on Saturday and through much of camp as Armstead has been worked back slowly.

“I was pumped with him getting out there and what he did during the game. We’ve explained to him what he can do to improve and, hopefully, that’s what this is all for.”

Coleman has had a long journey back from being stashed on injured reserve his entire rookie season after undergoing surgery on a knee last preseason.

“It sucked, unfortunately,” said Coleman, “but coming into this year, I was just like, ‘You know what? I got to give it my all.’ I’m feeling 110 percent better, so I was itching to get back on the field.

“I had never missed a season before. It was really my first time. It was really unfortunate, but I had my teammates there and everything to keep my spirits up.”

As Armstead has watched Coleman and Little, the former second-round pick of the Panthers in 2019, back him up in practices throughout camp, he sees them improving.

“They’ve made huge strides,” he said last week in Tampa. “Those two I’d say, respectively, have made the most strides in this short period of time in camp.

“Greg is strong. He’s young, but he’s a veteran. He’s played a lot of football. He’s experienced. Larnel has a lot of tools. Great tools — his length, his strength, he’s an intelligent player. Just trying to clean up technique things and getting those guys comfortable and confident with the scheme so they can play fast.”

McDaniel would have an intriguing decision if he has to find an injury replacement for Armstead at left tackle this season. He’d be in a position to either keep the rest of the line the same or move Eichenberg or Jackson out to left tackle while probably incorporating either Michael Deiter or Robert Jones into some shuffle of positions on the line.

“Left tackle is an interesting one because, with the edge rushers that are in this league, you can go from sack-fumble to completion-explosive [play] because there is so much space,” he said Sunday. “I would say from a starting point, I would try not to move a starter out of their position to cover up another position. But I wouldn’t say that would be an absolute because you have to think through, know the pros and cons, and kind of address it the best you can.”

Eichenberg said Tuesday he’s not sure what move offensive coaches would make in such a scenario.

“Hopefully, we don’t get in that situation,” he said. “I think we have great depth. I’m pretty comfortable with the guys we have in the room. I believe in every single one of them, and I’m excited for them.”

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