The curtain raiser to the Premier League season takes place this afternoon as champions Chelsea go head to head with F.A. Cup winners Arsenal in what will be a repeat of the Wembley Cup Final back in May when Chelsea’s double hopes were foiled.
That early evening saw Arsenal run out 2-1 winners and go on to win a third trophy in four seasons, a victory which sets up this curtain raiser this afternoon which will not only hand out capital city bragging rights but also the first silverware of the campaign.
For Chelsea they will have a number of new signings available to choose from with record signing Alvaro Morata undoubtedly the pick of the bunch after his move from Real Madrid last month, in addition to that he could be joined by defender Antonio Rudiger who joins from Roma and also Willy Caballero who joined on a free transfer after leaving Manchester City.
There is however no debut for Tiemoue Bakayoko who is out with an injury and he is joined on the treatment table by Eden Hazard who is ruled out until September due to a long standing absence which was suffered back in June while on international duty with Belgium.
Arsenal will have a debut striker of their own to unleash as Alexander Lacazette will also make his competitive debut after joining from Lyon. The French international has already worn Gunners colours in last weekend’s Emirates Cup and although he picked up a knock in the defeat to Sevilla he will be fit to start.
Another new face at The Emirates is that of former Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac, the Bosnian has switched from the Bundesliga to the Premier League on a free transfer and his versatility will undoubtedly be a huge asset to Arsene Wenger over the course of what will be a long season.
It has been a long summer as the question as to whether or not Alexis Sanchez will stay with the club or not is yet to be fully answered. On the balance probabilities you get the feeling that he will now still be in North London come the end of the transfer window.
Whether he signs a new contract or not though is still something that nobody bar him really knows, whether or not that means that Wenger is prepared to let him walk away from the club for nothing come next May remains to be seen.
But for the 67 year old it is a key season for him as not only does he have to mastermind their return to the Champions League places but he also needs to justify the reasoning behind being awarded a new two year contract just a few months ago.
This game in isolation is not going to define whether that decision was a correct one or not but it will give the winners a boost going into the opening weekend. To be honest though it’s the kind of fixture that is great to win but no real drama if you do not.
For both clubs it is another run out at Wembley and the chance for Arsenal to either continue their pre-season momentum or for Antonio Conte to settle an old score after seeing his chances of winning a double in his debut season in charge go up in smoke.
Conte grabbed the most headlines over the summer when he told Diego Costa that he was no longer in his plans and intimated that his time was up at Stamford Bridge, the Spanish international is still on Chelsea’s book as he struggles to find a new home.
He may well be part of the first team squad in name but I would imagine that Michy Batshuayai will be above him in the pecking order as he will look to continue from the form that only saw him end last season well but also his impressive pre-season showings.
The Blues have not been able to land a new left back though which is much to the disappointment of Conte as he looks to find an upgrade on Marcos Alonso. He had something of a poor performance in the Cup Final and questions will be asked as to whether he or Cezar Azpilicueta get the nod in that particular role this afternoon.
It could go either way this game, I would make Chelsea the slight favourites personally but here is what Twitter thinks
We shall see who gets the first piece of silverware by around 4pm this afternoon