Nigerian players are expected to be at the centre of hostilities, as the English Premier League kicks off today with Arsenal squaring up against Leicester City in the season opener at the Emirates Stadium.
With the recent Community Shield triumph, Arsenal Football Club which parades Super Eagles striker, Alex Iwobi, is still in the celebration mood and would attempt to rattle Leicester City, which stars new signing, Kelechi Iheanacho, defensive midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa.
Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, has confirmed that one of his regulars, Alexis Sanchez will miss the opening duel.
The 28-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from the club in the summer with his contract up at the end of the season.
He missed the Community Shield victory over Chelsea with flu and now Wenger has said he is out with an abdominal strain.
Leicester City boss, Craig Shakespeare, has plenty of selection options ahead of the season opener at Arsenal.
The arrival of £25 million striker Iheanacho has provided another dimension to City’s attacking threats, although the Nigerian international is expected to be eased into action by Shakespeare, especially as his ankle knock on his pre-season debut cut short his much-needed game time.
Iheanacho is expected to recover ahead of Friday’s game but a spot on the substitute’s bench seems likely.
Islam Slimani, with a cut behind his knee, which he picked up during the friendly at Wolverhampton Wanderers, has also hampered his preparations forFriday, leaving Leonardo Ulloa, Jamie
Vardy and Shinji Okazaki as fully fit striking options.
Okazaki and Vardy look likely to be the two starters should Shakespeare opt for the more familiar 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 option. But with a tough curtain-raiser at the Emirates, where City has lost on every visit, Shakespeare could opt for a more defensive looking five-man midfield.
Danny Drinkwater looks unlikely to be fit with a thigh strain, but Matty James’ form in pre-season has been a big boost for Shakespeare. The former Manchester United midfielder has not featured for City for two seasons and his return to full fitness is as good as a new signing.
He could start alongside last season’s young player of the year, Ndidi, and the vastly experienced Spanish midfielder Vicente Iborra, who has joined City from Sevilla in a £12 million deal this summer.
In the wide positions, Marc Albrighton’s industry and form at the end of last season makes him pretty much a guaranteed starter on one flank, but Shakespeare does have a decision to make on the other flank.
Ordinarily, Riyad Mahrez would be a certainty, but his decision to publicly state earlier in the summer his desire to leave and the speculation, fuelled by Arsene Wenger, that Arsenal could be his favoured destination has complicated the issue.
EPL defending champions, Chelsea will begin their campaign against Burnley FC on Saturday as
Manchester United host West Ham United on Sunday at Old Trafford.