The Premier League is back! The 2017-18 season starts with a thrilling slice of Friday Night Football, as Arsenal take on Leicester City at the Emirates.
Arsenal don’t have a good record of starting the season well. The Gunners have won only 1 of their last 7 first Premier League fixtures. However, Arsène Wenger’s side will be on a high after beating Chelsea on penalties to clinch the Community Shield.
Leicester haven’t had the most promising preseason. They drew 0-0 with Milton Keynes Dons and then lost to Wolves and Burton Albion. However, they beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 last week, with Jamie Vardy scoring both goals.
Wenger will be pleased with the performances of his two new signings in the Community Shield. New £46million striker Alexandre Lacazette didn’t score but he hit the post and looked lively. Bosnian left-back Sead Kolašinac came off the bench in the first-half and stole the show. His attacking runs pushed Arsenal forward and he scored the equalising goal.
Leicester have made 3 big signings this summer. Harry Maguire has made a good start at centre-back in place of the injured Robert Huth. Midfielder Vicente Iborra looks a class act but he won’t be fit in time for Friday Night Football. Kelechi Iheanacho could make his debut for The Foxes, although the former Manchester City striker probably won’t last the full 90 minutes.
Arsenal’s switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation is working wonders. The Gunners look more solid in defence and Hector Bellerín and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are loving their attacking wingback roles. Wenger should stick with the system, despite being without Laurent Koscielny and probably Per Mertesacker for this match.
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare tried 4-3-3 in pre-season but his team still look most comfortable with wingers in a 4-4-1-1. It’ll be interesting to see if Iheanacho’s arrival changes that.
With several experienced stars missing, Arsenal will be relying on two of their youngest players. Rob Holding was brilliant in the Back Three last season and he carried on that form in the Community Shield. In attack, Alex Iwobi had an excellent preseason and will look to take advantage of the absences of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil.
For Leicester City, so much depends on their title-winning duo – Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Vardy looks to be back to his best but has Mahrez’s head been turned by interest from Roma? We’ll have to wait and see in the first Friday Night Football of the 2017-18 Premier League season.