Big Match Focus: Arsenal v Manchester City

Arsenal have a tough opening fixture to kick off their new Premier League season as they host champions Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday.

Premier League
Date: 12 August 2018
Game week 1
Kick-off: 17H00 local time/23H00 HKT
Venue: Emirates Stadium

Referee: M. Oliver
Assistants: S. Bennett, S. Burt
Fourth official: A. Marriner

Head-to-head summary

Arsenal 175 88 42 45
Manchester City 175 45 42 88

Previous encounter

Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City 09/05/18 (Premier League)

Manchester City goalscorers: B. Silva (15′), D. Silva (28′), L. Sane (33′)

It’s almost showtime! 😆

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Players to watch

Arsenal fans will be eager to see new signings Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Lucas Torreira in action and hope they gel alongside their dynamic duo of Henrickh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in what should be a tantalising clash against the stars of City.

While the champions have a myriad of game changers, their travelling support will be keeping an eye on the performance of new man Riyad Mahrez, who will add a new dynamic to City’s midfield.

Joining Mahrez at City are fellow new signings Philippe Sandler (£2.25m, PEC Zwolle) and Daniel Arzani (undisclosed, Melbourne City).

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Team form and manager quotes

Arsenal enjoyed a productive pre-season with four wins, and only a penalty shootout loss to Atletico Madrid as new manager Unai Emery went about constructing his squad for the campaign ahead. He will look to build on the club’s sixth place finish last time around.

Ahead of his first match in charge of the Gunners, Emery said: “We have to concentrate on every single match and enjoy the challenge.

“This is the best message I can give our supporters: a message of optimism. And first, we can focus only on our first three points, against Manchester City.”

He added: “We are working very hard in time for Sunday to show our capacity and our mentality and I want to win this match because it is important for us and the players to take confidence.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself and I want to transmit that to my players.”

City played just three pre-season matches, losing to Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool before seeing off Bayern Munich 3-2, while a more competitive starting eleven saw off Chelsea 2-0 in the Community Shield last week.

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Pep Guardiola, whose side are favourites for the title once against this season, said: “Focus is the most important thing in defending a title. A big mistake is to think ‘We are going to win or do this or that’, we need to prepare and do our process and don’t think too much about back-to-back titles. We try to improve and we will see.”

He added: “Riyad Mahrez has settled in well. He knows the league so that’s good. Football players connect immediately with him, he was introduced and got on with them and after two or three days he was just another member.”

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Team news

Aaron Ramsey faces a late fitness test for Arsenal after a calf strain while Nacho Monreal is a doubt with a knee problem.

Sead Kolasinac (knee) and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

For Manchester City, Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne have both been passed fit to play after their World Cup exploits.