The Premier League returns on Friday night at the Emirates Stadium, kicking off with Arsenal against Leicester City in a highly anticipated opening fixture for the 2017/18 season.
Both teams will be looking to make an impression after disappointing seasons last year, bolstering their squads with impressive new signings in the summer transfer window. Arsenal’s want-away Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez; who has been told he will not be leaving the club this summer, will not be included in the game after an abdominal strain he suffered in training on Sunday.
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez finds himself in a similar situation, who has been told he can leave this summer, provided a suitable offer in monetary terms is received. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is also a major doubt with an ankle injury.
Aaron Ramsey, Gabriel, Cazorla and Jack Wilshire remain side-lined through injury, however Per Mertersacker will be fit, after receiving a cut in the community shield. The spotlight will be on Arsenal’s £52m man, Alexandre Lacazette. No doubts can be held over his ability and technique as a player; however often the transition to the intensity of the Premier League proves itself an obstacle for foreign signings in performing to the best of their ability.
He will play a vital role, most likely as starting striker for the Gunners, with fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud as second choice. Arsenal’s powerhouse free agent signing Sead Kolasinac will look to build on his goal against Chelsea at Wembley last week and secure himself as one of the leagues dominant full backs. Lining up opposite, if he recovers from an ankle injury picked up last week, will be Leicester City’s £25m Kelechi Iheanacho.
After an impressive breakout season at Manchester City in 2015/16 scoring eight goals in 26 appearances, the forwards growth slowed last year. Scoring four goals in 20 Premier League appearances was not enough for Pep Guardiola- consequently he was sold on. This does not detract from his undeniable ability and pace on the ball, his promise is shown in City’s decision to include a buy back clause for the youngster should he impress for the Foxes in 2017/18 and beyond
The striker will be looking to have a big impact in his first Premier League appearance for new club, aiming to prove himself as a starter amongst an impressive Leicester attacking line including the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.
Written by Ed Martin.
Catch the full Premier League report for Arsenal v Leicester City on Friday night here at 90 Minutes At A Time – 90MAAT – your digital Premier League guide.