Euro 2020: Maguire takes a shine to Saka in England training
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Arsenal get the new Premier League campaign underway on Friday night when they travel to Brentford. And they will be hoping to start their season with a bang against the top flight new-boys.
Mikel Arteta’s side had a disappointing season last time out and could only muster an eighth-placed league finish.
But, with no European football to distract them this season, the Gunners will be able to focus their attentions on the league as they look to make in-roads into the top six.
Brentford are an unknown quantity at this level, having secured their top flight place through Championship play-off victory last term.
But with some players only just returning to north London following a summer of international football, and with others flattering to deceive last season, some Arsenal stars could miss out on a place in the starting line-up.
Express Sport takes a look at which players may have to make do with a spot on the bench.
Bukayo Saka had an outstanding summer at Euro 2020 with England and his stock has certainly risen off the back of some fine performances.
The winger started four matches for his country but did miss the crucial penalty in the final shootout loss to Italy.
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Saka was given an extended break by his club following his summer exploits and only returned for pre-season training last week.
The 19-year-old did get a run-out during Sunday’s friendly defeat to Tottenham but the opening day of the campaign may have come too early for the talented youngster.
Willian moved to the Emirates Stadium last summer amid tumultuous fanfare, but his first season at the club was a disappointing one.
After laying on two assists in his Premier League debut for Arsenal, Willian struggled for form and soon dropped out of the starting line up.
The 33-year-old had been brought in to become Arsenal’s chief creator, but he failed miserably on that front.
The side’s measly 55 league goals illustrates his lack of output.
Pictures of Willian looking overweight surfaced after his return to pre-season training this summer and the Brazil international will need to raise his game if he is to force his way into Arteta’s thinking.
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Hector Bellerin was a shoo-in for the right-back spot a few seasons ago, but he has been in and out of the side in recent years.
Callum Chambers has been looking to wrench the shirt away from the 26-year-old for some time and over the last few weeks he has staked his claim for a start at Brentford.
Bellerin’s cause hasn’t been helped by rumours that Arsenal are willing to allow him to leave the club this summer.
Inter Milan are apparently interested in the player and he may yet get his move before the end of the transfer window.
Gabriel played 23 Premier League games last season after moving to Arsenal from Lille.
But he was hardly convincing and certainly didn’t make the position his own.
Arteta spent big money on Ben White from Brighton this summer and may in fact opt to pair the England centre-back with Pablo Mari at the heart of his side’s defence.
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