The Greatest Show on Earth returns this weekend as Arsenal begin their 2023/24 Premier League campaign at home to Nottingham Forest.
Our curtain raiser may reignite some cross-city rancour from late last season when a dismal 1-0 away loss helped Forest secure their top-flight status and marked the official end of the Gunners’ title dream.
But a lot has changed for Arsenal since that May encounter and, after conducting an unprecedented summer spend, Mikel Arteta will expect his team to bounce back in front of a packed Emirates crowd.
3 key battles to watch as Arsenal host Nottingham Forest on first Premier League weekend
It promises to be an intriguing contest, and here are three key battles that could decide its fate.
1. Kai Havertz vs Matt Turner
Who predicted this opening-day matchup?
Although he is reportedly earmarked for a midfield role, Kai Havertz started up top in our Community Shield win and looks set to retain his striking berth on Saturday.
The German international did not score at Wembley and even spurned a few good opportunities to break the deadlock, which raises questions about where his positional future lies.
However, he competed well with a physically imposing backline and showed excellent work rate to track back and stop City progressing through the thirds – contributions that would be similarly useful against Forest counter-attacks.
In his way stands the recently departed Matt Turner, and he will do whatever it takes to cause an early domestic upset. Our former number two is an excellent shot-stopper and, like Stefan Ortega, could frustrate Havertz through his sprawling saves, while their shared tendency to attack crosses will make for a great aerial battle.
May the best debutant win.
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