Today marks the start of the season with the traditional curtain raiser in the form of the Community Shield. This used to be a very exciting day in the Arsenal calendar in the not too distant past but for the moment I don’t really care about it all that much because we are not involved. What I am more concerned with is the pre-season friendly that Arsenal are involved in.
There is much talk about Song and Van Persie still in the media, with “breaking news” stories such as Van Persie may play in pre-season friendly. Really? Is it such a surprise that a player still on the books may play in the last pre-season friendly.
Anyway in case it was ever in any doubt it seems as though the Dutch manager, Louis Van Gaal is privy to information we are not and he declared:“Robin will play his first game this Sunday. He has told me he is at least going to play 45 minutes this weekend. It is a good job, because I almost had not selected him.”
So there we go, all the other rumours surrounding him being in Manchester are completely false and any news regarding him at the moment is clearly speculative at the moment. I hope we stand firm and get a fee we are happy with or keep him but to be honest this is well trodden ground.
Similarly with Song, we get a feeling that is all too familiar, the players cannot wait to talk about one of our players and whilst Cesc said he respects us too much to talk about one of our players, the rest of them have no respect whatsoever.
Either way let’s talk about something more real and tangible like our upcoming pre-season friendly with FC Koln. The reason there is an air of excitement around this fixture when compared to other pre-season friendlies is obvious. It is the first time our complete squad (barring injuries of course) will be together to compete in a match. Also with it being our last game before the league starts next week, you can rest assured knowing that today will be a clear indication of how we are likely to shape up next week. With so many questions that remain unanswered, least of all the futures of some key players, it is sure to be an intriguing game of football.
For instance, where is Santi Cazorla going to play? He was most effective on the right hand side for Malaga last season but is equally capable in playing furthest forward in a midfield three. I would put money on him being used in that capacity today, and possibly for most of the season.
Of course that is dependent on what formation we utilise because as you may remember, Wenger alluded to Podolski and Giroud playing in a 4-4-2 together, that decision may hinge on the future of Van Persie. Is Diaby going to play? What is our best starting line up?
For the first time in years it is difficult to actually pick a starting XI such is the competition for places at the moment.
I would expect a first half XI to resemble what Wenger believe’s our best team is going into the season but expect a raft of changes at half time, enabling the majority of the 24 that have travelled to get some game time. I am certainly looking forward to the game, not because I necessarily expect a superb game of football which we dominate, just to get a glimpse into the exciting squad we are quietly gathering.
Place no stock on the result or even the performance but this is an important opportunity for the new boys and old boys to gel together and to practice “the shape of the team” that Steve Bould is trying to instil.
I expect and to be fair at this stage is compete guesswork on my part, the team to look like this:
Jenkinson Koscienly Vermaelen Gibbs
That is a mighty looking XI especially when you take out Jenkinson and replace him with Sagna. Get the work ethic and defensive shape right and that is a great XI.
Either way, I look forward to what the match may have to offer but more importantly I am genuinely excited about this team (if it stays together) and it’s chances this season.
Come on you Gunners.