Competition/Round: 2018/19 English Premier League Season – Matchday 1
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England, United Kingdom
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Simon Bennett, Stuart Burt
Fourth Official: Andre Merriner
TV Info: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA)
Live Stream: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA)
After a busy and exciting summer that featured the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a series of preseason friendly matches and the FA Community Shield Final, the English Premier League has returned.
Arsenal and their supporters will be disappointed with their performance last season, as the Gunners finished in sixth in the table. A series of changes during the offseason, however, could be vital as the London club seeks to overcome its challenges from the previous season. With a new manager and several new signings, the Gunners could be in store for an exciting season.
Manchester City, on the other hand, had a historical run. The Blues finished the 2017/18 EPL season on 100 points with 32 victories, four draws and two defeats. Given these performances, they will be tipped as favorites to retain the EPL trophy, something that has not been achieved since Manchester United’s title winning defence during the 2008/09 season. Moreover, the last time a club retained the title during a World Cup year was in the 1982/83 season, where Liverpool won the top flight.
Both the Gunners and the Blues saw many of their players compete in the FIFA World Cup this summer. As a result, their managers had to adjust their preseason plans as they were without many of their starters. Nonetheless, these players left a favorable impression in the minds of their managers, and the youngsters will hope to break into the first team this season.
Arsenal were the busier of the two clubs during the 2018 Summer Transfer Window. Following the resignation of Arsène Wegner, the club appointed Unai Emery as their new manager. The club also purchased several players in an attempt to rejuvenate the squad, and the Gunners will look to bounce back from their sixth placed finish from last season.
As for Manchester City, the Mancunian club has had a rather quiet transfer widow. The Blues acquired Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City and saw the departures of Yaya Touré and Joe Hart. In other news, Sergio Agüero returned to his goal-scoring form as the Argentine netted his 200 and 201 goals for the club in the FA Community Shield Final.
Leno; Bellerin, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva; Mahrez, Agüero, B. Silva
Manager: Pep Guardiola
On paper, it seems the neutral fan has been blessed with what could be an entertaining matchup in the first weekend of this EPL season. Yet neither Arsenal nor Manchester City will see this as the case, as their opening matchday of the 2018/19 EPL season is not ideal. Both clubs would have preferred to face weaker opposition as a weaker opponent would have allowed both sides to gradually ease into the start of the new season.
Therefore, it is possible both mangers will start a stronger side in an attempt to collect their first points of the season. If this is the case, this could lead to a very exciting game.
On the other hand, starting the season against a top-six rival could be a blessing, as both managers will know that they complete one of their more difficult games early on in this season. This will allow them to divert their attention to other challenges as the season progresses, particularly once the international and domestic cup competitions begin.
Nonetheless, neither manager will want to risk an unnecessary injury at the start of the season. Many of their players will be fatigued from this summer’s World Cup, and it is predicted this match will not live up to its expectation. Given the circumstances, a draw for both clubs would be ideal.
Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City