The traditional curtain raiser to the new Premier League season takes place at Wembley on Sunday as Manchester City look to pick up where they left off last season by lifting yet more silverware. The Treble winners take on their nearest rivals from last term, Arsenal, as the Gunners aim to lay down a message that they will again push Pep Guardiola’s team all the way in the 2023/24 season.
Mikel Arteta has certainly been backed by the clubs decision makers to try and make that goal a reality with the the North Londoners spending over €200,000,000 to bring in Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, and Jurrien Timber.
However, injury concerns regarding former City striker Gabriel Jesus continue to linger going into the new season which may place the burden of responsibility in front of goal on the shoulders of Eddie Nketiah. The 24-year-old striker went 14 straight matches without a goal at the end of last season so perhaps this is an area of the squad Arteta may look to address if there’s still money in the already well used transfer kitty.
Alex Ferguson was the master of knowing when to freshen a squad up, even during times of success, but Pep Guardiola has lost two players he would have probably have liked to keep around in the form of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyard Mahrez. Gundogan in particular was criminally underrated with Mateo Kovacic brought in as a possible replacement by Pep.
At the back, it’s unlikely Josko Gvardiol will be ready for Sunday’s game with the Croation World Cup star undergoing a medical at the time of writing but it will be interesting to see the shape of the City team at Wembley. Guardiola appears to have been playing a flat back four recently in pre-season with John Stones at the heart of it but of course, Stones was excellent in the holding role towards the end of the season, especially in the Champions League final. Kevin De Bruyne looks set to miss Sunday’s game through injury.
As for pre-season form, Arsenal have been up and down in their performances with the Gunners putting five goals past both the MLS all-stars and Barcelona but they were very poor in a 2-0 loss in the US against Manchester United. Aaron Ramsdale struggled particularly in that game with rumours of a move for Brentford’s David Raya hanging over the Englishman ahead of the new campaign.
Having greatly enjoyed their treble celebrations during the off-season, Manchester City have had a quieter pre-season schedule than Arsenal with the Sky Blues playing just three friendlies compared to Arsenal’s six.
A very strong City side were turned over 2-1 by Atletico Madrid last time out which maybe suggests Guardiola is slowly bringing his side to the boil in an attempt to replicate City’s strength down the home stretch last season.
In fact, Manchester City have lost out in the last two renewals of the Community Shield while Arsenal have won the last for Community Shield’s they have featured in.
VERDICT: Arsenal to win & BTTS (6/1).