Following a listless Community Shield last Sunday, the Premier League is now back properly – and the first weekend brings the first marquee game of the season: Manchester City head to The Emirates on Sunday to face Unai Emery’s new-look Arsenal.
Here’s the Stats Digest:
• Sead Kolasinac is Arsenal’s only confirmed absentee, although Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal are both highly unlikely to feature.
• Pep Guardiola will be without full-back Danilo, although Benjamin Mendy – who most missed of 2017-18 through serious injury – is fit again and came through the Community Shield unscathed.
• Neither Kevin De Bruyne nor Raheem Sterling travelled to Wembley and both will likely be granted extra rest following the World Cup.
• Emery is expected to give full debuts to centre-back Sokratis and holding midfielder Lucas Torreira, with the latter starting alongside Granit Xhaka in a two-man midfield.
• Manchester City will likely be unchanged from the team who won the Community Shield, meaning starts for new signing Riyad Mahrez and wunderkind Phil Foden.
• Despite only joining in January, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored ten goals from twelve starts in the Premier League last season. Alexandre Lacazette top-scored with fourteen (from twenty-six).
• Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil each contributed eight assists each.
• Sergio Aguero was Manchester City’s top-score on the way to winning the Premier League in 17-18, scoring twenty-one goals from twenty-two starts.
• Raheem Sterling, who is not expected to feature until late August, enjoyed the most productive season of his career, scoring eighteen goals and providing eleven assists.
• One of Guardiola’s major decisions will be whether to use Kyle Walker as an orthodox wing-back or involve him in a back-three at the expense of Aymeric Laporte.
• Emery’s first major decision will be between incumbent goalkeeper Petr Cech and new signing Bernd Leno. The German was presumably signed with assurances over first-team opportunities, so the battle between those two will presumably be a major sub-plot throughout the season.
• One potential weakness in City could be in the lack of cover for Fernandinho: the Brazilian started thirty-three games last season and, at 33, cannot be expected to give an unwavering contribution across three separate competitions. Guardiola’s eagerness to sign Jorginho, who eventually opted to join Chelsea, would seem to suggest that he agrees.
• Manchester City have won thirty-one of their last thirty-six Premier League games.
• Arsenal’s last ten home games have produced three goals or more.
• Arsenal have won twenty-four of their twenty-six home games in the Premier League (Manchester City, Manchester United).
Manchester City to win.
Manchester City to score three or more goals.
Both teams to score.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.