At some point every summer fixtures are released for the forthcoming season, a reminder that the winter of the soul will soon be over and football will soon be back with us. And when that happens, there are games for which we look out, scanning the list with our mental Stabilo Boss and picking out our key encounters – it’s a rare pleasure.
Well, this time, not so much, because one of the definitive matches is about to happen right now, on the first weekend, and it should be a belter. Chelsea, defending champions and Champions League runners-up, already had the best manager and the best players before they went and augmented them with Aniek Nouwen and, most significantly, Lauren James. They’re not unbeatable, but it’ll take an extremely serious team to finish above them after 22 games.
Arsenal, though, will fancy a shy. Joe Montemurro did a terrific job in his time in charge, but probably picked the right time to turn it in, and it’s going to be a buzz to see what Jonas Eidevall makes of a highly talented squad. Vivianne Miedema is as good as anyone in the world, and though Danielle van de Donk has left, Mana Iwabuchi, Tobin Heath, signed on Friday, and Nikita Paris, are exciting acquisitions who should go a long way towards compensating. Don’t be going anywhere – other than to the Emirates.
Kick-off: 12.30pm BST