Pep Guardiola expects Manchester City to face tougher title race

Kevin de Bruyne did not feature for Manchester City in pre-season friendlies

It was a memorable campaign but City boss Guardiola is well aware that rival teams and managers will be determined to improve and cut them down.

Emery has faced Guardiola on 10 occasions in the past and has failed to win one game, losing six and drawing the other four. For Emery, an opening game against the Premier League champions is a daunting task.

Arsenal have been crying out for a top-class goalkeeper for a number of seasons, despite landing Petr Cech from Chelsea in 2015, and the Gunners have turned towards Bernd Leno to become the new first-choice stopper at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back in training after suffering a calf problem, but left-back Nacho Monreal is doubtful with a knee issue.

A year ago the Gunners beat Leicester City 4-3, while in 2016 they lost by the same score to Liverpool... and now it's another opener that promises goals.

Centre-back Laurent Koscielny will miss the fixture as well. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are not expected to be up to speed yet but City still looked a class apart without them when they beat Chelsea in the Community Shield last weekend. Thus, he is definitely a huge threat for the Manchester City defence, likely to be led by English worldwide John Stones. Emery tends to shift between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, but probably needs three solid midfielders against this City side.

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And no, UTEP wouldn't have had Vince Hunter if this policy was in place before the 2015 season, despite him not being drafted. According to the Associated Press, Division 1 programs must provide scholarships for players who return to school.

Instead, Emery must focus on getting the best out of Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who made a fine start with Arsenal following his January move from Dortmund, while also finding a way to dovetail the creative talents of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If not, Aubameyang is likely to start from the left flank, although he may the lead the line here. Kyle Walker will overlap more for City than for England, where he was shifted inside into a back three.

This might worry Arsenal fans who are optimistic after the exit of Wenger but if the mettle they have shown during their preseason matches is anything to go by, then his first match on English soil against Pep promises to be a cracker. Arsenal must watch long balls over the top, however - Aguero has punished them in that manner in the past, particularly in this year's Carabao Cup final.

I fancy Arsenal to make a fast start, but for City to eventually overcome them.

"The Gunners have not won the league since 2004 and, after finishing fifth and sixth in the last two seasons, Arsene Wenger brought an end to his two-decade spell in charge".

Pep Guardiola insists his Manchester City players should remember their all-conquering form of last season when their title defence kicks off with a testing visit to Arsenal on Sunday. That said though this is still a tricky opener for the Champions.

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