The 2017/18 English Premier League season will start today ( August 11) Friday night for the first time in its 129-year history when Arsenal host Leicester City that have three Nigerians on their books (Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi and summer signing Kelechi Iheanacho) at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger’s men completed outside top four in the Premier League surprisingly since 1996 last season.
Be that as it may, Wenger rescued the season by winning the FA Cup at Wembley and he begins this campaign having signed another two-year contract extension in the mid year.
The North London club enters the new Premier League season off the back of an action stuffed pre-season, in addition to the Community Shield triumph over Chelsea. And keeping in mind that Arsene Wenger has a couple of “vulnerabilities” to contemplate before he picks his starting XI to confront Leicester City on Friday night, his inverse number Craig Shakespeare will have the capabilities to approach the services of Man City import Kelechi Iheanacho but the Foxes midfield lacks a couple of prominent names.
Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac may make their team debuts for Arsenal, but Alexis Sanchez is ruled out of the encounter with a stomach strain. Laurent Koscielny will miss out as well due to ban, while Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are fitness doubts.
Iheanacho had a prompt effect amid his first appearance for the Foxes after he came off the bench to set up Jamie Vardy for his second goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach a week ago.
The Nigeria was then pulled back as a precautionary measure in the wake of grabbing toe injury but has now completely recover.
Midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Vicente Iborra are unavailable as a result of muscle issues while Robert Huth is recuperating from lower leg surgery and is set to be replaced by summer signing Harry Maguire. Riyad Mahrez ought to be involved in spite of wanting out of Leicester City this summer but Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare says Mahrez will still produce while he remains with the club, per Laurie Whitwell of MailOnline: “I wouldn’t have any qualms to start him against Arsenal. I can only speak on how I’ve found him so far since he’s come back.”
Arsenal has collected more opening day red cards than any other Premier League side (6), with Laurent Koscielny getting two of the last three (2010-11 v Liverpool, 2013-14 v Aston Villa).
Arsenal hasn’t lost three consecutive opening day fixtures since 1960.
Leicester have won just one of their last eight Premier League games to start the season (4-2 over Sunderland in 2015, D4 L3).
Arsenal has never lost a Premier League game contested on a Friday (W6 D1) while Leicester have never won one on this weekday (D1 L2).
Alexandre Lacazette scored 91 goals in the French Ligue 1 over the last four seasons; more than any other player in the competition in that period.
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez was the only player to reach double figures for both goals (24) and assists (10) in the Premier League last season.
Alexis Sanchez was involved in the build up sequence of 38 Premier League open-play goals last season; more than any other player in the competition.
This game will see the English top-flight season begin on a Friday for the first time in its 129 year history.
MANAGERS’ UPDATES ON TEAM NEWS
Leicester manager – Craig Shakespeare
“Danny Drinkwater as got a thigh injury and should hopefully be another week,” Shakespeare told the media on Wednesday afternoon. On a positive note, Kelechi trained fully after his little knock against Borussia Mönchengladbach. He’s over his toe injury and he’s fully fit.
“Whether he can last 90 minutes, we’ll have to have a discussion about that, but he’s been training the last few days and looks sharp. That’s pleasing for us.
“Robert Huth is back in training which is a real bonus because we thought he would be out for more time. He’s joined in and he will get some game time with the Under-23s on Monday. He’s well ahead of schedule and he’s raring to go.
“Papy Mendy is back in training, so we get one or two back and we lose one or two but that’s the way it is at the moment in terms of injuries.
“Iborra has picked up a groin strain the other day in training so he will miss Friday’s game. I’m just waiting on the scan results. I expect that type of injury to be no longer than seven to 14 days.
“I saw Vicente’s face this morning as we had a chat. He’s obviously gutted but I think he’s experienced to know that he’ll get over it quickly. I’m without a very experienced midfield player but we’ve got enough strength in depth to deal with it.”
Islam Slimani was another man to pick up an injury during pre-season, this time against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but has since began training again.
“He’s returned to training. It was in an awkward place behind the knee. I think he had seven stitches in total. It was a nasty injury really.
“I’m not blaming the tackle at the time because I just think it was an unfortunate situation. He’s slowly getting back and he’s joined in training the last few days.
“We just need to get him sharp. He’s fully recovered from it but it was a nasty injury that just stops the mobility of the leg and the knee fully bending. He’ll be involved.” said the Foxes’ boss on the club’s official website
Arsenal manager – Arsene Wenger
“I have plenty of uncertainties about the players who didn’t play against Chelsea. For example Ramsey, Ozil, Mertesacker… and of course, Koscielny is suspended.
“I have players coming back who have not played, like Mustafi. Alexis will not be available for example, so I cannot go into the game with too many uncertainties. I can take a gamble on one, maybe maximum two, but I focus more on the players who had the right number of competitive minutes in recent weeks.
“We are well prepared and ready for a fight, and of course ambitious as well. I think we have a good level of physical preparation. All our players got a decent number of minutes of good competition, so overall the preparation of the squad looks good.
“Then we need to transform the quality of the preparation into points and that is of course a pragmatic view, but what matters is we win the next game and start in a strong way, which we didn’t do last year. That’s what we want to achieve this season.” Wenger told Arsenal’s website.
CheapGoals Prediction: 3-1
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
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- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.