The Premier League will kick-off on Friday night when Arsene Wenger’s (Yes, he’s still in charge) Arsenal take on Leicester at the Emirates live on Beach 105.5 Fm. It will be the first time the English top-flight season will kick start on a Friday night in its 129 year history.
There are a few questions surrounding Arsenal’s overall outlook going into the new season. Prominent among them is the future of Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean striker is set to miss the opening game after he sustained an abdominal strain in training.
It doesn’t look like the gunners will be fielding their first choice back line either, but they still look much more stable than they did this time last season. Then, they lost to Liverpool on the opening day.
Arsène Wenger reiterated importance of starting off on the right note in his post match media engagement after beating Chelsea in the Community Shield. The Gunners have won only one of their last seven opening day Premier League fixtures, losing three of the last four.
Wenger’s job is pretty much cut out this season. Arsenal finished outside the top four in the Premier League for the first time since 1996 last season. It’s been about twelve years since Arsenal last won the Premier League but any ambition beyond making a return to the top four might seem unrealistic.
Reality has no doubt set in for Leicester City by now, after they shocked Premier League fans across the globe by winning the title under Italian Claudio Ranieri a couple of seasons back.
The Foxes begin a campaign for the first time under Craig Shakespeare who replaced Ranieri. Leicester are on a 21-game winless run against Arsenal in the Premier League. Their only win against the Gunners came in their first ever Premier League encounter back in November 1994.
Leicester will be counting heavily on the man whose goals fired them to the title two season back. Jamie Vardy has scored Leicester City’s last three goals against Arsenal in the Premier League, twice scoring the opening goal.
Arsenal undoubtedly go into this game as favorites, but Leicester are more than capable of upsetting the odds. Alexis Sanchez’s absence means that new boy Alexandre Lacazette is certain to have his first taste of premier action. Like Arsenal, he cannot afford to have a slow start. It’s difficult to call a game involving Arsenal but they looked pretty solid against Chelsea in the Community Shield.
It does appear the hunt for the right goes beyond Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette. He was coming off the bench at Manchester City but for the amount of money he come in Kelichi Iheanacho should be starting for Leicester. Irrespective of how he fares, I still believe Arsenal should win this one.
Hans Mensah Andoh