Arsenal look to avoid another Premier League opening-day defeat while questions remain over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

#1 – Can Arsenal open with a bang? 

It has become traditional that Arsenal look somewhat undercooked going into a season. This time however, they look determined and ready. While Crystal Palace battered them at Selhurst Park in April, this rematch appears to suit the visitors more. Patrick Vieira’s prediction of “a completely different game” seems hard to fault. Palace are yet to find a replacement for Conor Gallagher, whose energy was so fundamental to their better performances last season. 

Arsenal players

Cheikhou Kouyaté has left and the current injury list includes James McArthur and Michael Olise. Reinforcements have taken longer to arrive than Vieira might like, while Mikel Arteta has been able to strengthen in key areas. A year ago Arsenal’s Covid-weakened side began disastrously at Brentford, but an opening day defeat does not appear likely this time around. 

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 #2 – Can West Ham pose a serious threat to Man City? 

The champions do not have an easy start to their title defence. West Ham are unbeaten in their past three home games against Manchester City and play in a way that unsettles Pep Guardiola’s side. A lot of it is centred around the incisiveness of Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio on the counter. West Ham looked short of creativity during pre-season but that is likely to be less of a problem against City. 

Man City players

After all, David Moyes will not be making plans for his team to dominate possession. It will be all about West Ham maintaining a low block and keeping a close watch on Erling Haaland. They will also be looking for ways to release Bowen, whose diagonal runs from right to left saw him score twice when these sides last met. 

#3 – Will Cristiano Ronaldo play against Brighton?

Erik ten Hag’s first Manchester United XI for a Premier League game is not yet known at this point. It is not currently expected to include Cristiano Ronaldo due to the striker’s lack of match-fitness. The manager branded the 37-year-old’s early departure from Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano as unacceptable. 

Ronaldo

However an injury to Anthony Martial means a spot in attack has opened up. United are short of attacking numbers and it will be interesting to see what happens. As the new manager tries to somehow rebuild a shattered side, how Ten Hag deals with Ronaldo may define his tenure.

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