Gylfi Sigurdsson on exciting new arrivals at Everton and optimism for new season

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Everton playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

The new Premier League season is almost upon on us and we, as a team, are all looking forward to getting our campaign underway at Crystal Palace this weekend.

The opening day is what we have been working towards since we returned for pre-season training at the start of July. Over the past six weeks we have trained and played matches in Kenya, Switzerland and Germany (twice) – we have prepared well, there is an excitement amongst the group and we all cannot wait for the serious action to get started.

As with every club, over the summer months some players leave and others join. We have welcomed seven new signings to the club, all of whom bring additional quality to the talent that we already have within the squad.

The return of Andre Gomes on a permanent basis from Barcelona following a productive year on loan was a massive boost, a fantastic signing for the club. Everyone who watched our games last season could see what he adds to our midfield, especially driving forward with the ball.

Fellow midfielder Fabian Delph has joined from Manchester City and brings experience of winning things – he was tough to play against so it will be nice to have him in our team this season! Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl has settled into the squad fantastically well since moving from Huddersfield and, in the final week of the transfer window, midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin, striker Moise Kean, defender Djibril Sidibe and winger Alex Iwobi all joined us, too, to add extra depth and quality to the squad.

We are excited to play alongside these players and it is good for the morale of the team when you see top players being recruited. It is good for competition as they are all determined to make an impact.

Delph has arrived from Manchester City.

Delph has arrived from Manchester City.

These new signings, of course, add to what we already have at the club, players like Seamus Coleman who is the Republic of Ireland captain, Lucas Digne, who has a wand of a left foot and won the Club’s Player of the Year award last season, Jordan Pickford, who is England’s first-choice goalkeeper, and Michael Keane, who is one of the first names on our team sheet.

There’s also Richarlison, a fantastically skilful forward who gives the team an extra dimension with his attacking flair. He scores goals and works incredibly hard for the team. With the summer he has had – winning the Copa America with Brazil – he will be on a high and hopefully he can build on that success during his second season with the club.

As with every year, you always aim to improve and the team’s consistency will be important to us achieving that. We started last season well but there was a period of five or six games where we picked up just one or two points and the other teams around us pulled away.

The manager, Marco Silva, is asking for quality and hard work from the team. He’s a great coach who demands a lot from his players and, as with every manager, he wants his players to play for the team. It’s important for us to focus on these things and make sure we start the season like we finished the previous one – we collected 17 points from our last eight league matches in 2018/19 – because continuing that momentum will be a big factor for us.

Personally, I’m looking to build on my own performances last season – that has always got to be the aim. Just before the first game of the season, I normally write a few things down, targets for the year, so you’ll have to ask me at the end of this season whether I have reached them or not!

The football club is moving in the right direction and the ambition shown with the plans for the new stadium is also hugely exciting. The designs were revealed a couple of weeks ago and, just prior to that, the squad were given a first glimpse of the proposed plans. What we saw was fantastic and it certainly created a buzz in the dressing room.

It’s evident that the club is moving in the right direction and, as we enter the new season, there is every reason to be optimistic about what can be achieved during the next 10 months.

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David Silva made Manchester City club captain

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David Silva has been named as the new club captain of Premier League champions Manchester City.

Manager Pep Guardiola has announced the veteran Spanish playmaker, who is now in his final season at the club, came out top in a vote held by the squad.

The 33-year-old will take over from the long-serving Vincent Kompany, who left the club at the end of last season.

Silva had been the favourite after taking the armband for the majority of City’s pre-season games, as well as the Community Shield, but Guardiola wanted the whole squad to make a decision after returning to training.

Guardiola, who added that Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero will also be part of a leadership group, said: “David Silva will be our captain. He’s been one decade here, he knows the club, he knows the Premier League. He has big respect from his mates.

“The decision taken was the best for the club. He will be a good captain.”

City learned this week that winger Leroy Sane had suffered a serious knee injury and will undergo surgery next week to repair a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Guardiola is expecting the German, who limped off against Liverpool at Wembley last Sunday, to miss most of the campaign.

He said: “Normally this kind of injury, ACL, is six or seven months. Hopefully in February or March he can come back with us.”

In more positive news for City this week, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has agreed a new four-year contract.

The 28-year-old’s previous deal was due to expire next summer and there had been speculation about his future.

Guardiola said: “I spoke with him once and said I’d be so delighted if he can stay because players like him are so difficult to find in Europe, in terms of personality and playing in different positions always in a high level.

“Thank you to him and the club for the effort to keep him with us for the next four years.”

Treble winners City begin their latest title defence at West Ham on Sunday.

Guardiola confirmed forward Riyad Mahrez is back in contention after missing the Community Shield due to concerns over medication he had taken while on international duty with Algeria.

The club were unsure what the substance was, which could therefore have created a problem if the player was drug tested, but the issue has now been resolved.

City also made a further foray into the transfer market this week to bring in right-back Joao Cancelo from Juventus, with Danilo moving the opposite way, but he will not challenge Kyle Walker for his place immediately.

“Thank you to him and the club for the effort to keep him with us for the next four years.”

Treble winners City begin their latest title defence at West Ham on Sunday.

Guardiola confirmed forward Riyad Mahrez is back in contention after missing the Community Shield due to concerns over medication he had taken while on international duty with Algeria.

The club were unsure what the substance was, which could therefore have created a problem if the player was drug tested, but the issue has now been resolved.

City also made a further foray into the transfer market this week to bring in right-back Joao Cancelo from Juventus, with Danilo moving the opposite way, but he will not challenge Kyle Walker for his place immediately.

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Unai Emery hints at more Arsenal exits

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Unai Emery is still open to selling players abroad this summer as Arsenal prepare to start the new Premier League season.

The Gunners made six signings during the transfer window including bringing in Kieran Tierney and David Luiz in a deadline day double swoop on Thursday.

Alex Iwobi left for Everton, Carl Jenkinson moved to Nottingham Forest and former captain Laurent Koscielny departed acrimoniously for Bordeaux in recent days.

But there could yet be more departures with Italian, German, French and Spanish teams able to add to their squads right up until September 2.

Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny are two Arsenal players who have been heavily linked with moves away from the Emirates Stadium this summer and Emery admits more departures are likely.

“Yesterday we finished the transfer possibility and also we did progressively with some players to sign and also led to some players to leave,” he said.

“I am really delighted with our work. The club did everything to get the best players to help us and to make our squad stronger.

“As you can understand, we are changing players at the last moment and also with Laurent Koscielny, he was the first captain, and he left us five days ago.

“Also, we have had other players come in. Now we have the squad and we have finished the transfer market, but it’s still open in other countries.

“Unfortunately, we can achieve the last moment finishing yesterday with some players but now in the next 25 days we could lose some players.”

Arsenal start their campaign at Newcastle on Sunday, with the distinct possibility that none of their six new players will be in the starting line-up.

Tierney is nursing a groin problem and Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos took a heavy challenge to his ankle in last week’s friendly defeat to Barcelona.

Luiz and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe are fighting a fitness battle, while William Saliba will spend the season on loan at St Etienne having joined from the Ligue 1 outfit last month.

“We are going to start Sunday with players who I am very convinced can perform now at 100 per cent,” Emery added.

“For some, that’s impossible for them to achieve that performance for us because they arrived later or started training with us after injuries.”

Last season’s player of the year Alexandre Lacazette could also miss out as he continues his recovery from an ankle issue suffered in the Emirates Cup defeat to Lyon, while the likes of Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Konstantinos Mavropanos continue their respective rehabilitation.

Arsenal missed out on the top four by a single point and lost the Europa League final to Chelsea in Emery’s first season at the helm and, following their busy transfer window, the Spaniard is now keen to push on and secure a return to the Champions League.

“The Premier League is the best competition in the world,” he said. “We are going to work and be with a big challenge to compete in this competition to find the top four.

“We know it’s difficult, but really our ambition and our motivation is to do the best we possibly can in every competition.

“The Premier League is the most important competition and we are going to start on Sunday and it is going to give us the regularity and consistency in 38 matches.

“It’s the first way for us to achieve our targets and objectives to be in the top four, but we know it’s going to be difficult.”

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