Arsenal are ready to host Manchester City in the Premier League’s opening gameweek’s bumper clash, as both teams hope to kick-start their campaign with a win.
Arsenal’s beginning of a new era after ending their life under Arsene Wenger last season after 22-years, and under the new manager, Unai Emery, they couldn’t have envisaged a more challenging start. Emery’s first challenge begins with a visit from the reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s positive pre-season ended with a 2-0 win over Lazio, but Emery’s new training methods, tactics and a possible pressing style of play have all been the talking points during this time. Arsenal had been busy shoring up their side during the transfer window, with mostly defensive recruitment.
Manchester City are the biggest challenge of Emery’s fresh injection of ideas and a platform where they can execute them and show their stand with a win. Manchester City have not lost touch on their great football, after defeating Chelsea with a victory at the curtain-raising, Community Shield.
Manchester City, have not made significant changes to their side with the transfer window, with Guardiola making only one addition in Riyad Mahrez in a club record £60 million deal from Leicester City. Despite having much more players participating at the World Cup than Arsenal, Guardiola’s City seems to be ready to challenge the Gunners on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery has used the limited amount of funds at his disposal to make changes to the squad that he felt were the absolute necessity. Sokratis, Lucas Torreira, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno were all signed as well as the young prodigy, Matteo Guendouzi. But will all play a part in their opening game against City?
There could be debuts for Torreira, Sokratis and Leno, as the German is indeed considered as Arsenal’s new No.1, ahead of veteran Petr Cech. After sending Calum Chambers on loan to Fulham a few days ago, Emery seems to be going with the idea of fielding Sokratis and Mustafi as his preferred choice of central defensive pairing.
The big news, however, was the absence of Aaron Ramsey from their last friendly with Lazio, with the Welshman reportedly suffering from a minor calf injury. The midfielder has returned to full training and Emery would want his best midfielder to be part of the starting-XI against the Champions.
Another problem area for Emery is the left-back position, with first choice star Sead Kolasinac definitely out for two months with a knee injury and Nacho Monreal only joining full training two days back after returning from World Cup duties with a knock. It means Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be primed for a start in a position he is somewhat familiar with from last season.
In attack, Emery had experimented with a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 during pre-season. Against City, he is expected to go with the latter in a bid to accommodate and get the best out of Mesut Ozil. While in attack, he could start Alexandre Lacazette up front with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the left and right side respectively.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Ramsey; Aubameyang, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette
Pep Guardiola does not have too much of a worry with many players participating in the World Cup. Of those, are Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, who despite only returning to the club last week are available for selection, Guardiola confirmed.
David Silva is a big worry for City, as he is still nursing an injury while also being absent from the entirety of City’s pre-season and will definitely be absent for the Arsenal game. But City has other midfielders as options to replace him, with Gundogan likely to take his place in the midfield three.
Bernardo Silva, who impressed during pre-season in midfield is another option for City to replace Silva. In Bernardo Silva’s usual place on the left side of attack, Guardiola is likely to give new signing Riyad Mahrez his competitive debut as part of his front three, which could also consist two of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero.
In defence, Guardiola would go with John Stones and either of Nicolas Otamendi or Aymeric Laporte. Kyle Walker will play at right-back while Benjamin Mendy could return after missing last season with a knee injury at left-back. Ederson is expected to replace Claudio Bravo in goal after the Chilean started City’s Community Shield win over Chelsea.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3) – Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, B.Silva; Sane, Mahrez, Aguero
- Arsenal are without a win in their last five meetings against Manchester City.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last none opening Premier League fixtures.
- This is the 11th meeting between Pep Guardiola and Unai Emery, their first in the Premier League, while Guardiola having never lost any of those.
- This is the seventh time Arsenal play their opening Premier League game at home, losing three of those.
- Arsenal have received six red cards on opening day games, most by any side.
Player to Watch
It’s a tough choice to choose between 22 quality players from both sides combined. Aubameyang is a big game player and has been a prolific scorer in the last few seasons for Borussia Dortmund, while he has already scored ten goals since signing for Arsenal in January.
Arsenal’s defensive signings will give their forward players more freedom and Aubameyang is one to exploit this and torment the opposition. His clinical nayure and proper positioning will make him a threat for City, and he indeed is the one player to watch out for when the two sides meet.
Arsenal 2-3 Manchester City
This is a prediction based on recent Premier League form for both sides as well as their current head-to-head record. Manchester City have the quality side to beat Arsenal, and Pep Guardiola’s record against Emery will also be critical to this victory.
Arsenal, on the other hand, could yet surprise their visitors, owing to renewed energy in the team, following the arrival of new players and a new manager. If Arsenal play a defensively tight game, then they have the individual quality in them to stop Manchester City from winning, but based on merit, City will take the win at the Emirates.