Arsenal braced for a new approach under Unai Emery as Man City provides stern test

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Arsenal face a tough opening fixture to their Premier League campaign as they welcome Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium.

Pep Guardiola speaks highly of new Gunners boss Unai Emery but won’t be pulling any punches at the Emirates Stadium.

The encounter is shaping up to be a mouth-watering contest.

TALKING POINT
A new Arsenal approach

Arsene Wenger’s credentials as a brilliant coach was never disputed but when it came to encounters against top opposition, his idealistic approach could often translate to tactical naivety. Emery has a long way to go until he can be held in the same high regard as the Frenchman but he’s always proven to be tactically proficient.

The Spaniard is capable of tweaking and manipulating different systems to mould his team into a force that can best threaten the opposition. For years, how Arsenal set up and played in fixtures of such magnitude was largely predictable and when it all clicked, it produced some stellar performances but with all their cards laid on the table prior to the contest, it became easy to work around their strategy.

Emery on the other hand will have a few tricks up his sleeve and can be an innovative tactician. It’s fascinating then that his first competitive fixture as Arsenal boss brings with it a battle of wits with Pep Guardiola – a revolutionary mastermind.

The encounter serves up an intriguing contest on the touchline and it will be interesting to see if Emery can challenge the Catalan, perhaps relinquishing City’s air of invincibility early on in the campaign.

Unai Emery is set to spearhead Arsenal's brave new era. Photo credit: Arsenal website

Unai Emery is set to spearhead Arsenal’s brave new era. Photo credit: Arsenal website

KEY BATTLE

Mahrez v Maitland-Niles

With Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal both expected to miss the encounter through injury, young Ainsely Maitland-Niles is set to start at left-back. The youngster has shown plenty of promise but City will no doubt target him with the wily Riyad Mahrez operating down his side.

The full-back has pace and may have been more comfortable dealing with a flying winger but it’s the Algerian’s ingenuity that could leave him exposed. Mahrez will also have the benefit of linking up with Bernardo Silva playing on the right side of central midfield. With Kyle Walker getting forward from his full-back role as well, there’s plenty for Mahrez to work with.

Meanwhile, Maitland-Niles is unlikely to receive much support from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who could feature on the left flank to accommodate Alexander Lacazette up front. Sokratis Papastathopoulos will also struggle to help out the youngster with the lively Sergio Aguero buzzing about in and around the box. Instead, the 20-year-old will have to look to Lucas Torreira for a bit of help.

Riyad Mahrez.

Riyad Mahrez.

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Unai Emery

“We want to start well, we want to play and we want to show our quality, our work in this month tactically and with our spirit.”

Pep Guardiola

“The target is to win on Sunday and then, after that, (against) Huddersfield and then Wolves. At the end we will see our level. I am focused on that, not focused on back-to-back (titles).”

WHAT WE THINK

Arsenal 2-3 Manchester City

There are plenty of goals in this one and Arsenal should run City close with a full pre-season for most of their first-choice players behind them. The Citizens – lead by the in-form Aguero up front – have enough about them though as they showed in the Community Shield.

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