There is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Gunners at present, despite Arsene Wenger’s decision to extend his contract at the club following the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea. Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac have joined from Lyon and Schalke respectively, but the futures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil remain unresolved – each member of the trio has less than 12 months left on his contract, which could see them sold in this window. Arsenal are set to embark on their first season without Champions League football in two decades; the more optimistic members of the club’s fan base will hope that Europa League commitments will prove less of a strain on their Premier League ambitions, but it is nevertheless difficult to envisage the north London outfit launching a sustained challenge for the title.
Bayern have a habit of getting their transfer business done early, something that has been in evidence again this summer. Niklas Sule, Sebastian Rudy, James Rodriguez, Serge Gnabry and Corentin Tolisso have already been snapped up by the Bavarians, who finished 15 points clear of second-placed RB Leipzig at the top of the table in the Bundesliga last time out. Despite adding another Bundesliga crown to their trophy cabinet, Bayern fans were left disappointed by their failure to reach the Champions League final, with eventual winners Real Madrid knocking them out at the quarter-final stage. Conquering Europe for a sixth time will be the club’s primary objective in the 2017/18 campaign.
Arsenal will be without Sanchez for the entirety of the International Champions Cup, with the Chile international having been given additional time off due to his participation in the Confederations Cup in Russia. Lucas Perez, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson will also play no part having been left behind, while Joel Campbell is at the Gold Cup with Costa Rica and Wojciech Szczesny is on the verge of sealing a move to Juventus. It will be interesting to see whether Wenger employs a 3-4-2-1 formation – the shape Arsenal used towards the end of last season – or shifts to a four-man backline.
Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Sven Ulreich are all injured and will not feature, while Joshua Kimmich, Rudy, Sule, Gnabry and Arturo Vidal have not yet returned to the fold following the Confederations Cup and Under-21 European Championship. Carlo Ancelotti will probably keep faith with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, but former stalwarts Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso have now hung up their boots and will need to be replaced. Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski will be a major threat up top and Jerome Boateng remains at the club despite being linked with a move away.
It is probably worth backing Bayern to come out on top at the Shanghai Stadium. A win for Ancelotti’s men with both teams to score is one option, while James could be an astute choice for anytime goalscorer.