The start of a new Premier League campaign always brings out the most optimism. Last year’s long, grueling, and at times, frustrating season is over. However, we ended the season winning nine of our last ten games, one of which was against Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. With our new 3-4-3 formation, there were signs of positivity within the team and adding the likes of Kolasinac and Lacazette early in the transfer window showed us, the fans, that the club was moving in the right direction.
The team was in high spirits during their preseason tours, winning the Asia Trophy, Emirates Cup, and Community Shield. Arsene Wenger had this to say during his pre-match press conference:
I think we have a good level of physical preparation. All our players got a decent number of minutes of good competition, so overall the preparation of the squad looks good.
We should see a similar squad to the one that faced Chelsea in the Community Shield when Arsenal face Leicester City on Friday evening. However, there are some questions that Arsene Wenger needs to answer before he sets the team:
I have players coming back who have not played, like Mustafi. Alexis will not be available for example, so I cannot go into the game with too many uncertainties. I can take a gamble on one, maybe maximum two, but I focus more on the players who had the right number of competitive minutes in recent weeks.
Some of those uncertainties also include Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, and Per Mertesacker. Laurent Koscielny is also facing suspension. The hope is we can see Ramsey slide into the center alongside Xhaka and Ozil finds a spot across the front three, especially with Alexis out. Again, we’ll have to see if they are fit come Friday.
The back three will most likely look the same, with the exclusion of Per Mertesacker, who suffered a head injury in the Community Shield. Predictions indicate the Mustafi will slide into the center of the back three, with Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal.
The real question mark will be who starts on the flanks? Wenger has many options, including the likes of Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and new boy Sead Kolasinac, who scored the tying goal in the Community Shield. He was a real force when he was subbed on for Mertesacker early in the first half, getting stuck into tackles, creating chances and of course, finding the back of the net late in the 2nd half.
Projected Starting XI
Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bellerin; Ozil, Lacazette, Welbeck
We could see Kolasinac in there for either Ox or Bellerin, and depending on the fitness of Ramsey and Ozil, we could see Elneny and Iwobi in their places.
Excited for the start of the new Premier League campaign and excited to be back writing for Arsenal World this season!
Good to be a Gooner!