EPL Opener Preview: Arsenal vs Leicester City – 11 August 2017 – Emirates Stadium – 19.45 hrs
The Gunners would sorely want to put behind the disappointment of the previous season behind them. Arsene Wenger's men were dislodged from the Top 4 of the Premier league for the first time in two decades.
As for Friday's opener, there are still lingering doubts about the inclusion of team stars, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, both of whom are presently reported to be indisposed. Wenger totally ignored the two in the Community shield clash and started off with his £52 million Lyon-import Alexandre Lacazette who truly impressed in the game and almost got his first goal, hitting the Chelsea woodwork in the first-half.
Striker Alex Iwobi will probably have to make way for Alexis Sanchez while Welbeck, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lacazette combine with the Chilean striker to make up a formidable quartet for Friday night's opener.
For Gunner debutant Sead Kolasinac it was a dream come true at the Emirates on Sunday. Replacing an injured Pet Mertesacker in the 32nd minute, the 24-year Bosnian left-back got his team's only equalizer when he found the back of the Chelsea net with a well-placed header. In the absence of Laurent Koscielny (out on suspension for two matches) and a doubtful Mertesacker, Kolasinac will in all likelihood begin his duties at the back with another debutante, Rob Holding, and defensive mainstay, Nacho Monreal.
Leicester City are a worried lot with their £25 million acquisition from Manchester City still nursing injuries from his maiden appearance against Borussia Monchengladbach. The 20-year old Nigerian forward had to limp off after a collision with Mönchengladbach midfielder Laszlo Benes.
Club veteran Danny Drinkwater will be another who will be out for another 10 days with a pulled thigh muscle, which means he will miss out on the Friday's Emirates clash. Star midfielder/winger Riyad Mahrez will probably feature in the Arsenal clash with manager Shakespeare having blocked a potential £31.5 million move to Roma. Jamie Vardy will still be the Foxes scoring mainstay as he proved with his brace against Borussia Monchengladbach last week.
Odds heavily favour the hosts in Friday night's Arsenal vs Leicester opener and they are distinctly the stronger of two teams. But Arsenal have known to be edgy beginners and with the likes of striker Jamie Vardy in their ranks, Leicester will be a team to be wary of.