Arsenal vs Liverpool: Will title hopes turn into pipe dreams?
Both sides face injury problems ahead of an early examination of their title credentials in the Premier League opening weekend
The start of a new Premier League season is like Christmas morning for football fans, with hopes high and presents aplenty in the form of new signings.
While the opening weekend has thrown up several interesting fixtures, the standout game is Sunday's clash between Arsenal and Liverpool, which could go a long way to deciding the mood of the fans for the next few months.
Manchester United's trip to Bournemouth is also intriguing, with the world's most expensive player, Paul Pogba, and one of the game's biggest stars, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, set to take their bows at the Premier League's smallest-ever ground.
The weekend kicks off with champions Leicester away at newly promoted Hull in a match that could set the tone for the Foxes' title defence.
In his first Premier League outing as Man City manager, Pep Guardiola faces former Manchester Utd boss David Moyes, while Tottenham Hotspur get their campaign underway at Everton and new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte begins his reign with a London derby against West Ham on Monday night.
Arsenal vs Liverpool
Both sides will be optimistic about their chances this season, but one of them may have their bubble burst.
Arsenal find themselves in a familiar position, with high expectations competing against serious concerns over their summer recruitment policy. Added to that, there's the defensive injury crisis to contend with.
The absence of Per Mertesacker, Gabriel and possibly Laurent Koscielny will give Arsene Wenger a headache and amplify the frustration of fans who want to see him splash out on big name players. As it is, the Gunners could start with Ro Holding and Calum Chambers at the back and Chuba Akpom up front.
However, new arrival Granit Xhaka could make his presence felt in midfield, providing cover behind the more creative players, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Liverpool also have familiar injury concerns, with striker Daniel Sturridge fighting to be fit. New signings Marko Grujic, Joel Matip, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane are in contention for a starting berth.
"Liverpool’s transfer business is largely complete and their pre-season form has been exceptional at times, culminating in an electrifying 4-0 demolition of Barcelona at Wembley," says the London Evening Standard.
"Liverpool look nearly as light as Arsenal in defensive areas so should both sides' formidable attacks click on Sunday than we may have a contender for game of the season inside the opening week."
Much will depend on the atmosphere at the Emirates, which was downright poisonous at times last season. Will the rival factions be able to bury the hatchet on Sunday?
"Another season, another summer of discontent among many Arsenal fans who had hoped for a big-name striker to be starting against Liverpool," says the Daily Telegraph. "Liverpool, on the other hand, seem rather more cheerful about their business so far and will hope to nick an early win over one of their rivals for a top-four place."