Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has praised the work done by Mikel Arteta over the summer as he prepares to take on his old club to open the new season on Friday.
"They are in a better place than last year," said Vieira. "The new players have made them much stronger.
"They have the squad to challenge and be closer to the title."
Vieira masterminded a 3-0 victory for Crystal Palace over the Gunners in April, a result that had severe repercussions for Arsenal's Champions League push, but has seen great improvement in pre-season.
"It will be a completely different game," he said. "They had a really good time during pre-season.
"We know it will be challenging but we have the tools to make it difficult for them."