The Community Shield is the traditional curtain raiser for the season, and it pits the previous season’s Cup winners against the League Champions.
It is normally a party-like atmosphere, with both sets of fans eager to get their hands on another piece of silverware, but with significantly less pressure than a conventional cup final.
And Arsenal will be more than keen to capitalize on the end of last season’s run – which saw Arteta’s side defeat Liverpool in the League and then defeat City and Chelsea on their way to the FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp will have plenty to say on the matter though, but it is unclear what sort of lineup both teams will name. On the face of things, Liverpool may well be favourites, but they were overwhelming favourites for the corresponding Premiership fixture – and Arsenal ran away with the win.
It is unlikely Klopp will make the same mistake twice.
Liverpool have the stronger squad and are arguably one of the most complete sides in Europe right now. In the last two seasons they have won both the title and the Champions League, but success comes at a price.
It makes you a bigger target and the bullseye on their back will be a huge coup for all teams. Regaining the title is much harder than winning it and their rapid counter-attacking style may well take its toll this season. The Reds have done well to avoid long-term injury to their big names over the last two campaigns, but with precious little rest for any side between last season and this one – Klopp will have a watchful eye on his men – and could call upon his youngsters to provide backup.
So, who will take to the Wembley pitch in our red and white?
Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli are still some way away from a first team return, and Shkodran Mustafi is also out. Pablo Mari will not be named either and could take some time before returning.
That could mean a start for new boy William Saliba, which all of us fans want to see. The Frenchman will be pitting his wits against the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino so this could be a real acid test for the youngster.
In midfield, we have a full roster, so Granit Xhaka will play, although Dani Ceballos is out of the reckoning after his loan spell ended. So Lucas Torreira could partner the Swiss star – or perhaps Matteo Guendouzi could come in from the cold and get a start?
In attack, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started our friendly win over MK Dons and is likely to play. Nketiah, Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe are all in the reckoning too. It’s pretty unclear who Arteta will name, but our youngsters may well get a nod in this game, with no real pressure on them.
Player to Watch
The former Leipzig midfielder had a slow start to his Liverpool career after joining for big money, but toward the end of last season, he got a run of games and his traits were there for all to see. Full of energy, great at winning the ball and is good at both ends of the pitch. If he carries it forward and he has runners, we need to stop him in his tracks.
Hoe This Could Go
Who knows really? If Liverpool pick up where they left off last season, we will have our backs against the wall. Mind you, that shouldn’t fill us with dread as it used to. Arteta has instilled steel into our side and we have shown we can defend when we need to.
We have to stop Mane on the run, but then you have Salah cutting in and Firmino’s link-up play. Our midfield will be the key.
They need to act as a shield and position themselves to crash their attacks, and then it is on the likes of Nelson or Auba to break forward at speed.
And above all, we NEED to take our chances when we do get them. This is a chance to put a marker down for the season.
Let’s make the most of it.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Bellerin, Saliba, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Willock, Torreira, Auba, Nelson, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 3-2 to The Arsenal
Can you predict our lineup?