Arsenal and Manchester City might bring the first round of Premier League fixtures to a close on Sunday, but the match represents the beginning of some exciting new times for both clubs; as Arsenal look to kick the Unai Emery era off with a bang and City look to successfully begin their defence of the Premier League title.
It’s a meeting of two sides with high ambitions, and two sides with reasons to be positive – granted for very different reasons – so something has to give.
Here’s a look at what you can expect from Arsenal vs Manchester City.
There are always goals when City and Arsenal meet, and that was certainly the case in December 2013 when Arsenal went to the Etihad, and took part in one of the great matches of the Premier League era, with City, eventually, running out 6-3 winners.
At the time, both sides were firmly in the Premier League title picture, and you could see why with some of the attacking football on show. Truth be told, though, despite the hammer and tong nature of the match, City were dominant, and the result served to foreshadow their ultimate success, as they went on to win their second Premier League title that season.
Goals from Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva, Yaya Toure and a brace from Fernandinho, with a Theo Walcott double and a Per Mertesacker consolation sprinkled throughout, demonstrated exactly what City were capable of at that point in time, hitting heights even Pep Guardiola’s side would struggle to emulate at their best.
For Arsenal, meanwhile, it served as a stark reminder that things weren’t happening for them under Wenger, and they will hope to have moved on from such defensive fragility under Emery.
Pre-season results don’t always serve as accurate indicators for how a club will perform when the domestic season gets underway, but try telling Arsenal that the pre-season fixtures don’t matter.
They rounded off their run of matches with a 2-0 win over Lazio last week; following up a 2-1 win over Chelsea, a 5-1 win over PSG and an 8-0 win over Boreham Wood. The only blemish on their pre-season record was a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid, but all in all they will take significant encouragement from their results, and the performances to match.
City, meanwhile, lost two of their three friendlies – 1-0 to Dortmund and 2-1 to Liverpool – before beating Bayern Munich. They then returned to England to comfortably dispatch of Chelsea in the Community Shield, which of course nowadays serves as a strange hybrid between a final friendly and a competitive match.
Pep Guardiola has said in press conferences that key men Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling will be available for selection, despite the duo going the distance at the World Cup.
If we’re taking Pep at his word, then, then City have a full squad to choose from, as former long-term absentee Benjamin Mendy returns to first team action after spending most of last season out with an injury.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have a couple of definite absentees, as Sead Kolasinac looks as if he is around 8-10 weeks away from a return, and Laurent Koscielny further away still, as he aims for a return towards the end of the year.
Aaron Ramsey has returned to training, but there is no word on whether or not this one will be too early for him.
Both sides will be very determined to start quickly in this one, so there should be a few goals in it. It’s early days for Arsenal under Emery, though, and while things should come good for them eventually, they’re starting against one of the best league sides of all time in England, who are out to retain their crown.
It should come a few weeks too early for Arsenal, and City should come away with a win.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-3 Man City