Unai Emery takes charge of Arsenal’s season opener away to Newcastle United, and there could be new signings taking the field, while Mesut Ozil is unavailable.
Arsenal take on Newcastle United in their season opener. It has been eight seasons since the Gunners have traveled to play their first game of the season. However, with the quality that Unai Emery possesses at his disposal, supporters should be optimistic about their away form season this term, starting with Newcastle United.
There could be some exciting team selection from Emery for this clash, although there are injuries and absentees. Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and new signing Kieran Tierney are all unavailable for this game as they recover from their respective injuries.
Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil are out of the squad following some security concerns with their involvement in a recent off-field incident. Nicolas Pepe is still match fit, but fellow summer signing Dani Ceballos is all set for his first taste of Premier League football.
Another new arrival, David Luiz could also be handed his debut after actively participating in former club, Chelsea’s pre-season preparations. There could also be a start for Alexandre Lacazette, who had been a fitness concern due to a minor injury sustained during a pre-season game. Lucas Torreira, on the other hand, is also yet to gain full match fitness after arriving late from the Copa America.
During his pre-match press conference, Emery was asked about various aspects of his side ahead of the Newcastle game. There was an acute focus on the new signings, especially Luiz, who has previously worked with Emery at PSG. On the defender,
Emery said, “We worked for two months together at PSG and then after three matches, the club, and he decided to sign for Chelsea. Now it is the same. It’s a very good and big opportunity for us and also the fact that he decided to change Chelsea for Arsenal is an important step.”
“He wants to do something important with us, to help us do something important in the present, in the future. He has the experience, he has quality in the build-up, and he’s a good defender. He’s coming here to help us with his capacity and quality.”
Bernd Leno is the automatic choice between the sticks. Bellerin’s absence would allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to continue in his role from last season as the right-back. Sokratis and Luiz are expected to comprise the central defensive partnership. Kolasinac’s absence means Nacho Monreal is Arsenal’s only left-back and he should start on the left side of the Arsenal defence.
Emery is likely to go with a midfield three, with Granit Xhaka starting in a more defensive role. He should be supported on either side by Matteo Guendouzi and Ceballos. The absence of Ozil and the sale of Alex Iwobi leaves Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the only recognised option for the no. 10 slot. The Armenian should start behind the two strikers Emery is likely to field.
Lacazette’s return fitness is undoubtedly a boost for the side, and he should continue his blossoming strike partnership with last season’s Premier League joint-top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles; Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos; Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang, Lacazette