Arsenal face Manchester City at Wembley in the Community Shield on Sunday in a repeat of last season’s title race.
However, Arsenal are in the Community Shield by default as Manchester City won the treble last season. That, currently, is the difference between the two teams.
It is not advisable to draw sweeping conclusions from the Community Shield. It would undeniably be a fillip for Arsenal if they were to win, though.
You could argue that the title was won and lost in two City victories over Arsenal last season. The Gunners proved themselves capable of beating any team in the league, except City.
Beating City feels like a hurdle Arteta’s team needs to get over if they’re going to become a trophy-winning side. A victory over them in the curtain raiser for the new season would provide a huge boost.
A loss against them could be written off in the exhibitionary context of the game, but it could make usurping City feel like even more of a sisyphean task.
There’s no doubt that Arsenal are good now. They’re a quality, Champions League level team and they’re here to stay for at least a few more seasons. However, there is some doubt surrounding how well they can start the season.
They started last season ridiculously well, with twelve wins in fourteen games. They’re never going to start a season that well again, and they could have a tough start.
Everybody can see the plan behind signing Declan Rice and Kai Havertz to replace the outgoing Granit Xhaka. However, the new-look midfield needs time to gel.
As well as that, the two players who transformed them last season are set to miss the start of this. Oleksandr Zinchenko has yet to be seen so far in preseason, so he’s presumably still working his way back from injury. Striker Gabriel Jesus requires knee surgery and is set to miss ‘a few weeks.’
With all that considered, a good performance, if not result, becomes quite important against Manchester City on Sunday.