The Premier League returns this weekend with the marquee matchup of the opening round of fixtures being Arsenal vs Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London. Without waxing too lyrical, it’s an encounter between the most aesthetically pleasing side in the division and a club desperate to return to that echelon.
City, of course, ran rampant in England last year while setting records for points earned (100), goals scored (106) and goal difference (+79). The club also set a record which amounts to the biggest nonevent of dramatics in the league's history, finishing 19 points above second place. But that’s not City’s fault, is it?
It’s up to the competition to bridge the divide, and no club epitomizes the need for an aggressive overhaul more than Arsenal. The Gunners approach the new season in unfamiliar territory: this is the club’s first Premier League campaign sans Arsene Wenger.
It’s now former Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery in the dugout, and the Spaniard’s first order of business is to restore a bit of the snarl to a side that’s become synonymous with ArsenalFanTV and Roy Keane rants containing words like useless, disgrace and soft.
With defenders Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal all unavailable for Sunday’s match because of injury, it’s certainly going to be a trial by fire for the new boss.
How to Watch Arsenal vs Man City: Date, Time, TV and Stream
Sunday, August 12, 2018 | 11:00 a.m. ET
Emirates Stadium, London
TV: NBCSN and Telemundo
Stream: NBC Sports Live, Fubo TV, Sling TV and Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
Arsenal vs Man City 2018 Preview, Prediction And Team News
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal Transfers In
- Stephan Lichtsteiner | RB (Juventus)
- Bernd Leno | GK (Bayer Leverkusen)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos | CB (Borussia Dortmund)
- Lucas Torreira | CDM (Sampdoria)
- Matteo Guendouzi | CM (Lorient)
Arsenal Transfers Out
- Per Mertesacker | CB (Retired)
- Santi Cazorla | CM (Villarreal)
- Jack Wilshere | CM (West Ham)
Emery, like everyone else who’s watched Arsenal play over the last few years, identified problems at the back and signed two hugely experienced defenders in Lichtsteiner and Sokratis. After the struggles of Petr Cech last season, 26-year-old German international Leno was also brought in.
The club’s most expensive signing was that of Torreira, a 22-year-old defensive midfielder who was exceptional for Sampdoria in Serie A last season and for Uruguay at the World Cup.
The club’s attack has been in fine form throughout preseason, posting an 8-0 victory over Boreham Wood (hooray!) and a 5-1 triumph over the children of PSG. Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette have all been amongst the goals, but I will remind you that Manchester City isn’t the Wood.
Arsenal Predicted Starting XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin; Ozil, Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang, Lacazette
Manchester City Team News
Manchester City Transfers In
- Riyad Mahrez | RW (Leicester City)
Manchester City Transfers Out
- Yaya Toure | CM (Free Agent)
- Joe Hart | GK (Burnley)
You could say it’s been a quiet summer for City, and compared to last summer’s outlay of over $270 million, it's definitely been a bit more tranquil. But still, the club’s dropped a fortune on the guy who was the best player in the Prem only three seasons ago, Riyad Mahrez.
Not only is Mahrez damn good, he also fulfills one of the final needs of the squad. Last season, the inexplicably gifted Bernardo Silva spent a lot of time out of position on the right wing (although he’s certainly capable of playing exceptionally well there). Mahrez’s capture allows the Portuguese to operate from a more central role.
This is all to say that the team is incredibly stacked and could probably challenge on nine or 10 different fronts if nine or 10 different competitions actually existed. Having said that, we might see a bit of a shuffle in City’s lineup Sunday with so many players having reached the later stages of the World Cup.
Manchester City Predicted Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, B. Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sane
Arsenal vs Manchester City Prediction
Nothing demonstrated the growing divide between Arsenal and its ambitions of a Premier League title more than last season’s results against City. The Gunners played the Citizens thrice (once in the final of the EFL Cup), losing by a combined scoreline of 9-1.
That gap hasn’t diminished, but the Emirates faithful will certainly be hoping for more than just another beatdown. City win here, but a narrow 2-1 defeat gives Gunners fans cause for optimism.