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Arsenal vs Manchester City – can the champions continue their five game unbeaten streak against the Gunners?

The new Premier League season has finally arrived after an enjoyable World Cup tournament in the summer. The season kicks off on Friday night when Manchester United face Leicester City. Although that game will kick off the Premier League season, the biggest game of the opening weekend is between Arsenal and Manchester City.

 

Both teams experienced vastly different seasons last year with Arsenal finishing sixth with their lowest ever points total in 22 years, whilst Manchester City dominated the league by gaining 100 points and finishing 19 points clear of second place Manchester United.

 

Unsurprisingly, City head into the new season as overwhelming favourites according to the Premier League winners odds which are now available. However, Arsenal have impressed this pre-season following the appointment of Unai Emery and, with a number of key City players potentially unavailable, Arsenal could start their season with a win against the defending champions.

 

In this article we look ahead to Sunday’s big game where both teams will want to start their season with a win.

 

Arsenal

For the first time in 22 years, Arsenal will be heading into a new season with a new manager following the departure of Arsene Wenger at the end of last season. Wenger’s departure means that a period of transition is inevitable but, with Unai Emery in the dugout, they’ve got a coach who has experience at the highest level, at clubs such as Sevilla and PSG,and has won a number of major trophies in the past few seasons.

 

A game against the current champions isn’t the easiest game to start off Unai Emery’s reign at Arsenal, but it should give fans an idea of the kind of progress that has been made since Emery’s appointment.

 

Although Emery has yet to lead his Arsenal side out in a ‘competitive’ game, the pre-season results which the team have recorded should give fans some optimism for the forthcoming season.

 

Emery’s first game in charge of the North London club was against non-league Boreham Wood behind closed doors: as expected, Arsenal recorded a comfortable 8-0 win.

However, their first ‘real’ challenge came later in July when they played against Atletico Madrid in the International Champions Cup. The last time these two clubs met, in the semi-final of the Europa League, it was the Spanish side who came out on top. Despite Arsenal looking the more superior side, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, with Arsenal eventually losing 1-3 on penalties.

 

Following on from their penalty shootout defeat a couple of days earlier, the side then faced French champions, and Emery’s former club, Paris St German (PSG), beating them 5-1. Despite the impressive score line, the Gunners’ boss refused to get carried away with the result due to the lack of senior players in PSG’s starting eleven: Buffon, Diarra and Rabiot were the only senior players who started the game for PSG.

 

Arsenal would then finish off their International Champions Cup campaign against Chelsea. Much like the Atletico Madrid game, the match finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.However, the Gunners ended up winning 6-5 on penalties with Arsenal scoring every penalty in the shootout.

 

Arsenal then finished off their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win over Serie A side Lazio.

 

It’s not just on the pitch where Arsenal fans have seen an improvement from the club. In recent years, fans have been treated to several big money transfers, including Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom signed for over £45 million. Sadly, these signings failed to fix some of the glaring issues in the squad.

 

The club have gone for a different approach in this summer’s transfer market and focused on fixing key areas of the squad rather than making high-profile signings.

 

Bernd Leno was signed from Bayer Leverkusen for just under £20 million to replace the ageing Petr Cech as first choice goalkeeper. Central defender Sokratis was signed from Dortmund for around £15 million to replace Per Metresacker, who retired from professional football at the end of last season.

 

One of the most unexpected deals which Arsenal completed was the signing of French youth prospect Matteo Guendouzi from Lorient in a deal thought to be worth £7 million. It’s unlikely that the French midfielder will play much first team football this season but, if he can impress Emery, he could break into the first team in the next few years.

 

Their biggest transfer this summer is Lucas Torreira, who joined from Sampdoria for a fee of £26.4 million, making him the seventh most expensive signing in the club’s history. The Uruguayan midfielder put in a number of impressive performances last season and looks set to be a key part of Unai Emery’s plans this season.

 

Arsenal also signed Swiss full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer from Juventus following the expiration of his contract.

 

Manchester City

Manchester City will be wanting to start off their campaign in the best way possible following their record-breaking season last year.

 

The defending champions have been fairly reserved in their spending this window, only signing winger Riyad Mahrez from Leicester for a club-record £60 million. The Algerian was close to signing for the club in the January transfer window last season, but the two clubs failed to agree a fee.

 

The signing of the world’s most expensive African player may seem unnecessary considering the quality that City already have in attack, but Pep Guardiola clearly believes that Mahrez can offer something different to the existing Manchester City attack.

 

Despite their lack of signings compared to the past couple of seasons under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City still go into the season as favourites for the title.

While Arsenal put in some impressive performances and recorded some very good results, Manchester City were nowhere near their best in their pre-season matches. This was primarily due to the lack of key first team players who were unavailable because of the World Cup.

 

Players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, John Stones and Ederson all experienced lengthy spells with their country at the prestigious tournament and were given a lengthy break to recover. As a result, Guardiola was forced to play youth players during their pre-season campaign.

 

Their first pre-season game was against German side Borussia Dortmund where they were defeated 0-1, thanks to a Mario Götze penalty in the first half. Despite suffering a defeat, it was the first time that City fans got to see new signing Riyad Mahrez in action.

 

City suffered defeat in their next pre-season game against Liverpool, losing 1-2. Despite Leroy Sane giving the ‘Citizens’ the lead in the 57th minute, Liverpool fought back with goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Despite losing their first two games, City would record a victory in their final game of pre-season against Bayern Munich. After going 0-2 down within the first half hour, City battled back to defeat the German champions 3-2.

 

Last weekend, Manchester City ‘officially’ started their season when they played Chelsea in the FA Community Shield final. Despite missing a number of key players, City recorded a comfortable 2-0 win thanks to a brace from Sergio Aguero.


Video Source: BT Sport on youtube.com

Looking at the results from the previous couple of seasons, it is hard to see anything but a Manchester City win in Sunday’s high profile match. In their last five Premier League encounters, City are unbeaten and the most recent game between the two sides saw the Citizens win 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

 

Despite having a poor record against the blue half of Manchester in recent years, Arsenal have a very good chance of defeating the current Premier League champions.

 

Manchester City should have all of their first team players available, but vital players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker have missed pre-season, which could give Arsenal a slight edge.