Gabriel Martinelli helped fire Arsenal to their first three points of the Premier League season in their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Martinelli headed home after 20 minutes as the Gunners made a promising start at Selhurst Park.
And while the hosts came back brighter after the break in a second half that saw few chances for either side, the wind was taken well out of their sails when Bukayo Saka’s cross was deflected off the head of Marc Guehi to put the game away.
The night began with some last-minute drama for the hosts, who announced Christian Benteke’s departure to DC United after six seasons with the club.
Arsenal arrived at Selhurst Park hoping to avoid a repeat of last season’s shock opener when they lost 2-0 at Brentford.
Gabriel Jesus was one of three debutants for Mikel Arteta’s side, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba also named in the Gunners’ starting XI.
Arsenal were the first to get a shot in after Jesus cleverly worked his way into the box, dodging two Palace shirts before his strike deflected off Guehi.
The ball ended up at the feet of Martinelli on the edge of the field, but the Brazilian’s effort sailed well wide of the target.
Moments later it was Zinchenko who unleashed a shot of his own from almost the same spot, his effort better directed but deflected by Vicente Guaita.
The Eagles worked their way back to the attacking end, Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha swapping passes to move the ball down the left flank, but were unable to create any real opportunities.
The Gunners piled on the pressure and their debutants showed no signs of uneasiness in the first leg in front of the infamous Holmesdale stand.
Finally they got the breakthrough they were looking for at the set-piece, Zinchenko connecting first in the air before Martinelli redeemed his earlier miss, rising highest in front of a packed goal to nod in the opener.
Guaita prevented the visitors from quickly doubling their advantage, and turned away a dangerous corner moments later.
Palace’s best chance came towards the end of the half when Joachim Andersen found himself in the box to meet a free-kick, which he headed over the bar.
Odsonne Edouard, who earned his place in Patrick Vieira’s starting XI after scoring a brace in the Eagles’ last friendly against Montpellier, was in a good position in the center of the area and dove to meet the ball but aimed his effort straight at Aaron Ramsdale.
The Frenchman found himself with one last chance to equalize before the break, but skied away the hosts’ second best chance of the half.
Palace looked brighter after the restart and could have leveled after Zaha pin-pointed a pass to Eze in the center of the box to set up a one-on-one, but the south Londoner stepped on the effort.
What should have been a simple clearance for Arsenal turned into a horror after the ball bounced off several players and into the hands of Ramsdale, who somehow let it slide away before recovering.
Neither side managed to create many more chances, although the hosts asked much more of the Gunners in the second period.
However, any hope of sharing the points ended in the 85th minute when Saka’s cross deflected off the head of the unfortunate Guehi and into the left corner.