Arsenal entertain West Bromwich Albion in the 2008-2009 Premiership curtain raiser at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be looking to put the disappointment of last season behind him. In a season that promised so much the Gunners ended the campaign without a trophy. Something the Frenchman is keen to put right this season.
Baggies boss Tony Mowbray might have wished for an easier opening fixture after winning the Championship last season, with Mowbray reportedly a fan of Wenger and the Arsenal style of play. However, Mowbray is not sending his team to London for a day trip and his West Brom side were by far the best footballing team in the Championship last season and could surprise a few people this season.
Arsenal have seen a few key players leave the Emirates in the summer, with Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto Silva, Alexander Hleb and Jens Lehmann all moving on. Wenger once again has kept to his policy of bringing young talent to the North London club following the arrival of Samir Nasri, Amaury Bischoff, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin. The Gunners boss has also handed professional deals to six of the youth team.
Out of all the promoted clubs the Baggies have been most active in the transfer market, with Luke Moore, Kim Do-Heon, Gianni Zuiverloon, Graham Dorrans, Roman Bednar, Marek Cech, Scott Carson and Abdoulaye Meite all committing to the Hawthorns. Zoltan Gera, Curtis Davies and Kevin Phillips are the most notable players to leave the Midlands club this summer.
Arsenal Team News
Samri Nasri looks set to make his full Arsenal debut having missed the midweek Champions League qualifier against FC Twente because of a niggling thigh and knee complaint.
Defender Kolo Toure (hip) will also be back in the squad, but Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Abou Diaby (thigh), Philippe Senderos (hamstring), Amaury Bischoff (groin), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and striker Eduardo (leg) remain in recovery, while Alex Song is at the Olympics.
An interesting match fact for you, Arsenal last lost on the opening day in 2000 when they were beaten 1-0 away at Sunderland.
Predicted Starting XI
Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
Eboue – Denilson – Nasri – Walcott
Adebayor – van Persie
West Brom Team News
West Brom are without striker Luke Moore, midfielder Robert Koren, central defender Neil Clement and right-back Gianni Zuiverloon.
Moore has a thigh problem, Koren is still not fit following a knee ligament injury, Clement also has a knee problem while Zuiverloon is on duty with Holland at the Olympics.
Central defender Abdoulaye Meite, who joined Albion from Bolton Wanderers in a £3.5million deal last weekend, is set to make his debut in place of Clement.
Predicted Starting XI
Hoefkens – Barnett – Meite – Cech
Morrison – Greening – Kim – Brunt
Bednar – Miller
Match Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 West Brom
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