The Premiership returns for Arsenal with a tricky opening fixture versus Champions Manchester City, in a baptism of fire for new boss Unai Emery.
The Spanish coach couldn’t have asked for a tougher tie, but optimism is rife amongst the Gooner faithful after a promising pre-season that saw good results mixed with some vibrant performances that have inspired confidence of a rejuvenated Arsenal side this coming season.
The recovery after last season’s disappointment may have to wait though, as Pep’s City have showed that, despite having the lions share of their squad either fatigued or missing after their World cup exploits, they still have enough in the tank to beat Chelsea quite comfortably in last weekend’s Community Shield win.
Emery will be unable to call upon club captain Laurent Koscielny until at least December, and Sead Kolasinac is ruled out for ten weeks after injuring his knee in a friendly last week.
Nacho Monreal is training with the first team, but this match will come too soon for the Spanish defender, with Emery intimating in his first press conference that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will start the game at left-back.
Aaron Ramsey should be fit to make his way into the team after an injury scare last week. The Welshman may not have signed an extension yet, but he will most likely get a starting spot.
Of our new signings, it is unclear if Bernd Leno will get the gloves or it will be Petr Cech. So much is unclear as the refreshing winds of change rattle through the club with Emery changing things up in our friendlies with formation and different starting teams.
Lucas Torreira may make the bench, but this match will probably be too much of a leap for the Uruguayan, after only joining up with the squad for the first time two weeks ago. That means a likely starting midfield of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey, with Mohamed Elneny and exciting French talent Matteo Guendouzi as able backups.
Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi will probably comprise our central defence, and if Emery wants to keep things tight at the back, then Swiss right-back Stephane Lichtsteiner may be preferred to Hector Bellerin.
Up top, we have a plethora of options, but Emery seemed to prefer Lacazette as the conventional number 9, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing wide forward - Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be responsible for feeding the duo.
For Pep, there will be a few tired bodies, but there are no fresh injury concerns. Sergio Aguero will get the nod up top after his starring role against Chelsea at Wembley last weekend, and with David and Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin DeBruyne available, it means our defence and our new pressing tactics need to be on point if we are to snuff them out.
Much will depend on Fernandinho. The Brazilian seems to be the only viable option to provide midfield cover, and if he were to be injured, then a makeshift DM would have to be fashioned.
John Stones may miss out after only recently resuming training after his World Cup adventure with England, as well as Kyle Walker.
City will be a formidable task, but Emery couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to gauge how close his side is to where he needs them to be in order to challenge for honours. Most weaknesses have been addressed, now it is up to Unai to sort out the tactical naivety that plagued us.
If he can manage that, then we will improve on last season.
Either way, the Premier League and The Arsenal is back.