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City makes three changes for Premier League opener

PL OPENER: Guardiola has made three changes for the trip to Arsenal

PL OPENER: Guardiola has made three changes for the trip to Arsenal

Pep Guardiola has made three changes to the team that started last weekend’s Community Shield win over Chelsea.

Ederson, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan all come in, with Claudio Bravo, Leroy Sane and Phil Foden dropping to the bench.

Kevin De Bruyne is back in the squad after his post-World Cup break and takes his place on what looks like one of the strongest substitutes benches in Premier League history.

The game sees Guardiola come up against Unai Emery for the first time their LaLiga days. The pair went head to head ten times when Emery was in charge of Sevilla, with Guardiola, then Barcelona boss, coming through unbeaten (winning six and drawing four).

David Silva isn’t fully fit and hasn’t travelled, while Danilo still hasn’t recovered from the thigh injury he suffered at the World Cup.

READ: Premier League squad numbers announced

READ: Premier League season | Preview

City team

Starting XI:

Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho (C), Gundogan; Sterling, Bernardo, Mahrez; Aguero

Subs: Bravo, Kompany, De Bruyne, Sane, Otamendi, Jesus, Foden

City tactics

Guardiola’s philosophy is no secret: dominate possession, work hard off the ball and attack when the time is right.

Stopping it, however, is another story. City were the best in the division in possession last season, and were also the finest counter-attacking side, too.

Sit back, and City can pick you apart. Attack us, and we can break in devastating fashion.

Ederson returns in goal and plays behind a back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy. Stones and Laporte – both fine ball-playing centre-halves – will be tasked with starting City attacks with their range of passing, while Walker and Mendy will be detailed to get forward and provide width.

Fernandinho is our midfield pivot, with Gundogan alongside him. Those two will will provide protection behind our stellar cast of attackers.

Bernardo Silva, sensational last week against Chelsea, is likely to operate centrally, with Sterling and Mahrez out wide. Sergio Aguero, who scored two at Wembley and now has over 200 goals for the Club, will lead the line.

Arsenal team

Arsenal tactics

Arsenal are likely to be a far tougher nut to crack under Emery than they were during Arsene Wenger’s final few seasons. The former Sevilla and PSG boss has forged a reputation as one of the most demanding and hard-working managers in Europe, who builds sides in his own image. Some of Arsenal’s artistry may well make way for pragmatism under his watch.

Emery traditionally makes strong starts to the league season. A Sevilla, he posted 23, 24, 20 and 24 points from the first 33 available over the course of his first four seasons.

Pep on Emery:

"He [Emery] is an excellent manager. What he achieved - three Europa Leagues in a row - is excellent. He is a good manager and it is good for the Premier League.

"Our target is to try to win as much as we can and in April and May, we will see [the outcome]. If we are good and consistent like last season, we have a good chance."

Emery on Pep:

"After two years with [Pep] Guardiola, they [City] have more stability and security. When you watch their matches, they play with great confidence in themselves and also I think Guardiola's coaching is clear in this team.

"I am 46, he is 47. He started his career as a bigger player than me. His career as a coach is bigger than me."

Stats and milestones

Arsenal have just two wins in the last 12 meetings with Manchester City (D5, L5).

Manchester City could win consecutive top-flight away games against Arsenal for the first time since 1936.

This is the first time that Arsenal will face the reigning champions on the opening day since 1970, when they drew 2-2 with Everton.

The last time these sides met on the opening day was in 1994, when George Graham's Arsenal side won 3-0 at Highbury.

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