Arsenal vs. Man City
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Kick off: 4pm
Manchester City begin their Premier League title defence this afternoon with a tricky test against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The Citizens will be eager to get off to a positive start in the pick of the opening weekend’s top-flight fixtures, as they face a Gunners side embarking on a new chapter in their history.
For the first time since September 1996, when Bruce Rioch took charge of a 3-0 win against Sunderland, Arsenal will play a Premier League match without Arsene Wenger in the dugout.
For many Arsenal fans, it is a change that was much needed, with Unai Emery the man tasked with turning things around in North London.
Emery arrives on the back of a largely positive spell at Paris Saint-Germain, having won a domestic treble in his second season at the Parc des Princes, only to fall well short in the Champions League – the competition that truly matters to the Parisians’ wealthy backers.
In terms of both on and off the field activity it has been a solid start for the Spaniard, who has plugged gaps that were in desperate need of plugging through the addition of a new goalkeeper, a couple of new defenders and a defensive midfielder.
Pre-season results have been positive, too, thanks to 8-0 and 5-1 wins over Boreham Wood and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, either side of a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in the Far East, before beating Chelsea on penalties and Lazio in normal time.
Momentum is something that Emery could certainly do with ahead of meetings against Man City and Chelsea in his first two competitive games, followed by the visit of a rejuvenated West Ham United that now have Jack Wilshere and Lucas Perez – among a whole host of others – in their ranks.
Emery insists that it is a case of taking it one game at a time, though, and Arsenal should hold their own on the opening matchday in front of their home supporters. Only once did they lose at the Emirates Stadium across their last 11 league games there last season, although that was a 3-0 thrashing against this weekend’s opponents.
Arsenal possible XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin, Torreira, Ramsey, Lacazette, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.
Man City possible XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Bernardo, Mahrez, Aguero, Sane.