NIGEL WINTERBURN has declared Arsenal MUST beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to avoid a fan meltdown.
The Gunners go into Friday night’s clash at Selhurst Park full of optimism after a great pre-season having won six matches.
And following the big-money signings of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira, fans are hopeful of a positive start to the campaign.
Though there is a fear from supporters that they could suffer a loss in the opening match of the new Premier League term after last year’s 2-0 defeat at Brentford.
Fans are also hoping to avoid humiliation in South London for a second time in 2022 after Patrick Vieira’s men smashed Arsenal 3-0 in April.
Club legend Winterburn is demanding a better performance this time around, as he stressed that a loss would deflate supportes.
Speaking exclusively to SunSport on behalf of FreeSuperTips, the 58-year-old was asked what improvements he is looking to see against Palace.
To which he said: “I’m certainly looking for a much better score line that’s for sure.
“Listen, they completely dominated Arsenal last season at Selhurst Park and that can’t happen again from an Arsenal point of view.
“That would deflate the Arsenal supporters completely, they lost the first three games last season and it’s got to be different this season.
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“The first game is always tricky, it doesn’t matter who you play home or away, it’s always hard going into it.
“It will be a difficult game for Arsenal, but I want to see a strong showing that we didn’t see last year against Crystal Palace.
“There’s a different expectation from the supporters going into this season inside the stadium going off what I’ve seen in pre-season.
“They will not accept that level of performance we saw last season on Friday night, that is for sure.
“All I can say to this first team squad and the XI starting the game; make sure you’re ready for the fight and do not be bullied.
“When you’ve got time to play, they have to show their quality because Palace will hustle Arsenal, it’s exactly what they did last year.
“Arsenal tried to play out from the back, and they simply couldn’t, Palace took the ball off them so many times in Arsenal’s defensive third.
“It invited Palace on, and they were too strong for Arsenal, it cannot happen on Friday night.
“I’m always going to predict an Arsenal win because it’s what I expect all the time.
“I know it’s not going to happen every game, but I think from a fans point of view we’re all expecting a victory to make a statement.”