A new era has dawned at Arsenal and the dawn of Unai Emery’s reign at the Emirates Stadium is upon us following two decades under Arsene Wenger.
The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss faces a baptism of fire by hosting defending champions Manchester City on Sunday, then enduring another tough test the following week with a trip across London to Chelsea.
Emery has invested into his squad this summer though, landing five new faces, and a number of them are expected to make their debut this weekend. Here, we have identified the likely line-up for the Gunners.
Goalkeeper – Leno
Arsenal have been crying out for a top-class goalkeeper for a number of seasons, despite landing Petr Cech from Chelsea in 2015, and the Gunners have turned towards Bernd Leno to become the new first-choice stopper at the Emirates Stadium.
It remains to be seen how much football Cech, now second in the pecking order, plays this season as Arsene Wenger in recent years used to utilised his second-string stopper in the cup competitions but it’s not known whether Emery will do the same.
Leno arrives with plenty of expectation and experience but has plenty of years ahead of him at 26 years of age.
Defence – Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles
The biggest issue for Arsenal ahead of their Premier League opener is found at left-back, where Sead Kolasinac is facing around ten weeks on the sidelines and Nacho Monreal is not yet fully fit. Because of that, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will play in a more unfamiliar role having done the same against Lazio.
There’s also another big absence in the middle, where Laurent Koscielny is sidelined until 2019, but a new face as arrived in Sokratis Papastathopoulos. He will play alongside Shkodran Mustafi and fans will want better performances than witnessed in pre-season.
On the right, Hector Bellerin remains first choice despite signing veteran Switzerland international Stephan Lichtstiner and that could actually work in the favour of the Spain ace, as he will have competition in his position to push him on.
Midfield – Ramsey, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Lacazette
The saga concerning Aaron Ramsey’s contract situation is yet to come to a close but fans will be thankful that the Wales international enters the season with the club and has battled back from a knock to be in contention to feature on Sunday.
Alongside him is the sort of player Arsenal have needed for a while, with Uruguay World Cup ace Lucas Torreira arriving to compete in a combative role for the Gunners and providing extra protection to a defence that was far too frail last season.
Torreira’s impact could allow the attacking trio to be more expansive and Arsenal look likely to hand starts to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, set for his first full season at the club, Mesut Ozil, who enters on the back of a poor World Cup, and Alexandre Lacazette.
Former Lyon man Lacazette will compete for a central role alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this season but could be forced out wide, where his pace could prove to be a real asset but it may be a concern on Sunday in front of an inexperienced full-back.
Attack – Aubameyang
Signed for a club-record fee in January, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the ground running upon his arrival in the Premier League by scoring 10 goals and contributing four assists in just 13 league appearances for the club.
The Gunners have significantly improved their attacking ranks in the past 12 months and Aubameyang enters the campaign as the club’s leading man, excelling in pre-season and having crafted a strong relationship with Lacazette.
With Mkhitaryan and Ozil playing balls through to the Gabon international, and Ramsey charging forward from midfield, Aubameyang could hit the sort of numbers that saw him regularly tear apart the Bundesliga.
Newcastle’s likely XI vs Tottenham: Dubravka, Rondon & Kenedy start
Newcastle face a tough start in their second season back in the top-flight.
A new season is upon us and, for the second season in a row, Newcastle begin their campaign with a tough test against Tottenham Hotspur.
Rafael Benitez has endured a frustrating summer once again where his funds under Mike Ashley were limited, leaving the Spaniard searching the market for bargains. Fortunately, he made a number of good signings – but fans are worried it’s not enough.
A hosting of Tottenham is certainly going to be a difficult start to the season, particularly as Benitez has a number of injury concerns. Here, we have identified his likely XI for Saturday’s game.
Goalkeeper – Dubravka
After shining on loan at Tyneside in the second half of last season, Benitez moved swiftly to land Slovakia stopper Martin Dubravka on a permanent basis this summer to become first choice at St. James’ Park ahead of Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow.
Newcastle improved significantly following Dubravka’s arrival in January and will hope that the 29-year-old hits the ground running in his second debut with the Magpies against Spurs. He will certainly breathe a sigh of relief that Harry Kane will not feature after his World Cup exploits.
Defence – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett
With Florian Lejuene injured, Newcastle have taken a hit defensively ahead of the new Premier League season and Benitez has confirmed that Deadline Day signing Federico Fernandez will not feature in Saturday’s game.
In the absence of the recent acquisition from Swansea City, Ciaran Clark is likely to start alongside skipper Jamaal Lascelles – who Newcastle fans will be delighted has remained at St. James’ Park despite interest from a host of Premier League sides.
On the flanks, Benitez is likely to call upon DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett as his first-choice options.
Midfield – Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy
Back on loan at St. James’ Park for a second spell after excelling in the second half of last season, Kenedy will carry large expectations into his first full season on Tyneside and the Brazil talent will be looking to show that his form last year was not just a purple patch.
In the middle, Jonjo Shelvey will be aiming to force his way back into the England perception by showing that his ill mannered temper is behind him, while Mohamed Diame is also likely to be crucial in a position where some may be concerned about the depth following Mikel Merino’s departure.
Experienced Scotland international Matt Ritchie will provide a solid option on the right side and is expected to start the campaign as first choice, while Christian Atsu will give him a stern battle for his spot in the squad.
Attack – Perez, Rondon
Benitez was desperate to bolster his attacking options in the summer and landed two recruits as a result, securing Japan international Yoshinori Muto and Salomon Rondon from West Brom – giving him two superb options to select from.
Rondon is expected to get the nod initially due to his Premier League experience and will aim to hit the ground running on Tyneside, having hit seven goals and contributing three assists during West Brom’s relegation campaign last season.
He will find attacking support from Ayoze Perez in a number ten role, with the 25-year-old looking to prove himself as a potential leading man for the Magpies as he enters his fifth season with the club.
Three signings Burnley should push for after Europa League triumph
European nights could be a regular occurrence at Turf Moor this season.
Regular European action at Turf Moor in 2018-19 is within touching distance for Burnley after Thursday’s dramatic victory over Aberdeen.
Sean Dyche’s side netted twice in extra time to seal a 4-2 victory on aggregate, which sets up a double-header against Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir as the Clarets’ penultimate hurdle in the quest to reach the group stages.
Should Burnley emerge victorious in that affair, Dyche’s side must win overcome a potentially strong side with European pedigree in the play-off round – which may see the Clarets come toe-to-toe with a side who were knocked out of Champions League qualifying.
With just days remaining in the transfer window, Burnley do not have long to prepare their squad for potential European endeavours and these three targets should be Sean Dyche’s priority.
Ben Gibson: Middlesbrough
Burnley have excelled defensively in recent seasons, seeing the likes of Ben Mee, James Tarkowski and previously Michael Keane force their way into the England set-up. Sean Dyche wants further depth this season and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson is the man being targeted.
The Northern Echo states that Burnley have seen a £11m bid for the defender rejected but a fight could occur in the final days of the window, with Everton also eyeing a move. However, Burnley can offer European football – whereas the Toffees cannot.
Jay Rodriguez: West Brom
Options up front are relatively weak for Sean Dyche’s side and that will be a problem if Clarets secure their spot in the Europa League group stages. Therefore, a new forward is on the agenda and it seems that Jay Rodriguez is the man within Burnley’s sights.
The Guardian claims Burnley are holding out for a fee of £20m for the 29-year-old striker, a considerable sum, but it would be worth it for the return of memorable European nights at Turf Moor – which could even stretch into the coming seasons.
“We’re wealthy in the sense of being a balanced club financially but we’re not wealthy in Premier League terms. Everyone is looking down on us. We’re the minnow of the Premier League.”
Leander Dendoncker: Anderlecht
For European football, big names are necessary and Leander Dendoncker can be exactly that for Burnley. The 23-year-old Belgium international has been linked with a move to the Premier League for a while but has snubbed advances this summer.
The Sun claims the Anderlecht midfielder has already turned down Crystal Palace and Wolves, with interest from bigger sides drying up. A move to a top league in Europe seems inevitable and Burnley should make a move to jump to the front of the queue in the final week of the window.
New Everton deal great for the future and gets one over on Steven Gerrard
The midfielder has committed his future to Everton until 2020.
This summer saw Rangers appoint Steven Gerrard as manager. The former Liverpool man was swiftly linked with plenty of young talent from Merseyside and not just those he worked with as academy coach at Melwood.
However, those deals must have got back underway. Yesterday, the 18-year-old signed a new deal at Everton.
Denny signed his first professional deal with Everton this week. Whilst keeping him out of the clutches of Liverpool legend Gerrard is a win in itself, Everton fans will be far more excited about what he can bring to the club in the future.
The England youth international is the latest in a long line of promising talent to emerge at Everton.
With the likes of Jonjoe Kenny, Beni Baningime and Tom Davies in first-team action last term, Denny can easily begin to hope he can follow in such footsteps.
Denny is now contracted at Everton until 2020 and in the next two years will hope to show he is capable of being a star at Goodison Park.
Sorry Stevie G but for now, this one’s a Toffee.
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