The new Premier League season gets underway as Mikel Arteta takes his Arsenal side to newly promoted Brentford on Friday night.
Thomas Frank won the Championship play-off final at the second time of asking last season, beating Swansea City 2-0 to gain status as a top flight club for the first time in 74 years. The Bees have shown promising form heading into the Premier League’s curtain raiser on Friday, drawing with Manchester United, narrowly losing to West Ham and beating Valencia in their final three pre-season friendlies.
Arsenal, on the other hand, haven’t had the greatest preparations for the new campaign. A winless pre-season has seen the Gunners fall to defeats to Hibernian, Chelsea and Tottenham while they also drew 2-2 with Rangers. Arteta will be desperate to turn that form around and improve on his side’s eighth-placed league finish last term.
Here’s the Arsenal lineup he could go with on Friday night.
Bernd Leno (GK) – There has been talk of an incoming goalkeeper this summer but Arsenal currently only have Leno to call upon as an assured option, so the German should start this one.
Calum Chambers (RB) – A right-back is also needed and, while Hector Bellerin is still in the ranks, the speculation surrounding the Spaniard could see Chambers start on Friday.
Ben White (CB) – One that the Gooners will be chomping at the bit to see. £50m White will surely be handed his competitive debut against Brentford.
Pablo Mari (CB) – With Gabriel injured, Arteta will likely opt for the left-footed Mari to partner White, having put in some solid displays along Arsenal’s route to the Europa League semi-finals last campaign.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – A no-brainer to start for the Gunners, Tierney will certainly be an integral part of Arteta’s side once more this season.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (CM) – Following his £17m arrival from Anderlecht, the 21-year-old has shown signs of promise in pre-season and looks set to have an exciting maiden campaign in England.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – No, he’s not going to Roma. Yes, he’s staying put. And, although some may moan, Xhaka is a warrior and a leading presence in this Arsenal side.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – Although Arsenal remain keen to invest in another creative midfielder, nothing should be taken away from Smith Rowe’s undeniable quality. He can change a game with his movement and creativity and will surely start on Friday.
Nicolas Pepe (RW) – His £72m transfer fee has weighed heavily over him since his move from Lille, but we saw glimpses of Pepe’s quality throughout last term as he notched 16 goals across all competitions. Arteta will be hoping for an even more improved return this time around.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) – The same goes for Aubameyang, whose 15 goals in all competitions simply wasn’t good enough. Arsenal need more form their captain, starting with Friday’s trip to Brentford.
Bukayo Saka (LW) – A star of this Arsenal side, Saka will be keen to recreate the incredible influence he had last campaign and continue his development into a true leader. There’s no way he doesn’t start for the Gunners.