Arsenal were very impressive in beating City in the Community Shield last season, but they only won two of their first six league games after that. If memory serves me correctly the Invincibles were far from convincing in their pre season and then went on to create history. With all of that in mind Sunday's game against Chelsea isn't really all that important, but I'd still love to see Arsenal win and in style too.
Maybe it's because it's against Chelsea and Jose Mourinho or maybe it's just because I love to see Arsenal win. Arsene Wenger hasn't got a good record against his Chelsea counterpart and there's no love lost between them as we all saw in last season's game at Stamford Bridge. I'd love to see the boss get one over on him at long last even if it isn't in what's considered a competitive game.
The boss has a very strong squad to pick from with only Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, David Ospina and Tomas Rosicky unavailable. Sanchez was Arsenal's outstanding player last season, but the team have looked very good without him so far this pre season. He has had a much needed rest after a long hard season and he should be raring to go when he's back in the team in a couple of weeks.
It's not easy to predict what players will play, but I would imagine Petr Cech is the most likely choice in goal. I would also imagine the combination of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will be the preferred choice in the centre of the defence, but it's not easy to know which two full backs will get the nod. It's easy to make a case for both options on the right and the left and I would say it's probably a fifty fifty call on both sides.
In midfield Francis Coquelin looks like the most obvious choice to play the defensive role and there's a host of players who can play alongside him or in front of him. Which ones of them will play and where they all will play is another matter, but surely Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla will start. I think Olivier Giroud will lead the attack and the chances are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play too.
If those players are all in the team it only leaves one more place with Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere all deserving a chance and dying to play. I suppose a lot will depend on the system the boss chooses to play and which players will suit that system best. Walcott would surely be the best choice in a wide role but the other two have played there before while either Ramsey or Wilshere could play a more central role in midfield.
Whatever the selection is the team have more than enough to make things very tough for Chelsea and are more than capable of beating them. Despite their progress against the other top teams in the Premier League last season Arsenal still struggled against Chelsea. They lost 2-0 away from home and drew 0-0 at home and they never really looked like scoring in either game.
If they're going to take the next step and genuinely challenge for the league this season they need to overcome the Chelsea hurdle. I might have said the result isn't overly important, but I can't help feeling a win could be what the team need to get the season off to a flyer. Confidence breeds even more confidence and this Arsenal team is good enough to do something special if they can gain that confidence.
The second half of last season gave us fans some real hope for this season and the style the players have shown in pre season has only increased that hope. Winning on Sunday and doing so in style would increase that hope even more and it's something I think this team have every chance of doing. If they don't it's not the end of the world, but if they do it could just prove to be the start of something special.
In other news Wojciech Szczesny has made his loan move to Roma and he'll stay there for the season too with a possibility of the move becoming permanent. By the sounds of what he said yesterday it looks like he would be more than happy to make the move permanent and I get the feeling we might not see him in an Arsenal shirt again. It would be a shame if he did leave, but he has been the author of his own misfortune and Arsenal have two very good goalkeepers for this season.
As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and I'm hoping for even more this season.
I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.