Manchester City's preseason comes to a close on Sunday, as the Citzens travel to Gothemburg, Sweden, for a friendly match against Premier League rivals Arsenal.
After beating St. Johnstone behind closed doors at the City training ground a few days ago, Pep Guardiola has a chance for a final dress rehearsal one week away from the league debut, at home against Sunderland. Pep has trained his team for the last 30 days, and he hopes to see good development from his men playing against a top English side.
Over the last 10 days, Pep has had his entire squad available for training, and that's certainly good news. He worked with a lot of Academy youngsters in the initial weeks of training camp, and even though Pep loves to teach kids, they won't play this season, and he needed to have a good number of training sessions with his best players to show them how to play his style.
On Sunday, the boss hopes that the first month of training was good enough for his men to understand his system, and that system needs to work right away. The Premier League is unforgiven and the Champions League Playoffs are just around the corner. Arsenal is a fantastic test to the strength of Pep's team, and will provide an idea of how good the Sky Blues already are just a week away from the season kickoff.
Man City Team News: Guardiola took 23 players with him to Sweden, and a few ommissions are interesting and give us an idea of the boss' plans for the squad: there is no place for Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri, Nicolas Otamendi or Eliaquim Mangala, and those four did not seem to be Pep's favorites for various reasons. Bony and Otamendi don't fit his style, and Nasri and Mangala came in overweight and will not play until they're in top fitness condition.
Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan are injured and should start training by the end of the month. Leroy Sané has a hamstring problem and is a doubt for the Premier League opener, but should recover and join training sooner rather than later.
Kevin De Bruyne hasn't played under Guardiola so far, and it will be fascinating to see how Pep looks at Kevin. The Belgian is a fantastic player with many qualities, and is young enough to develop some parts of his game he didn't even know he had, and Guardiola is fantastic in that aspect of coaching. Pep is not a fan of the default 4-2-3-1 formation, and while KDB does flourish behind the striker, he might play in a new position with the Catalan manager.
Raheem Sterling has a big season ahead of him looking to prove he actually is good at football, and he wants to impress the manager against Arsenal. Pep loves a winger like Sterling, and the young Englishman will have plenty of chances to shine. New signing Nolito was an explicit request by Guardiola, and he will probably start against the Gunners to prove why he is a coach favorite.
It's still difficult to predict a starting lineup, but look for Aleks Kolarov again as a center-back, Fernandinho starting, Sergio Agüero looking to score again, and new tactical ideas Guardiola is always trying to implement in his teams.
Arsenal Team News: It has been somewhat of a quiet summer for Arsene Wenger, having made only three signings so far. The biggest of them is Granit Xhaka, who could be a breakout star in the Premier League this season. He's in the squad to face City, along with Gunner stars Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sánchez.
Because this is Arsenal, Wenger already has some injury concerns as Per Mertesacker suffered a knee injury in the beginning of training camp and is not expected back until 2017. Jack Wilshere, unfortunately, is always injured, and that's the case again for this preseason.
There are good news, however, and that comes in the form of Santi Cazorla, one of the best playmakers in Europe. The Spaniard is finally healthy and took part in almost every training session, and his talents will certainly help Wenger's side again.