Emirates Cup baby!
The match today provides the first sniff of anything remotely competitive since we lofted the FA cup trophy over our heads in May and that is exciting. The Emirates Cup is usually the first time we get to see anything close to Arsène's first team because games before the yearly Emirates matches are always mix and match affairs between youth players and seniors who are fit and ready for football.
It's a strange one really because I cannot remember a time where we have had so few friendly matches before the season kicks off. A large chunk of our players have not played any football this summer and we are already at the Emirates cup so that is rather strange. Contrast this summer with the last, we had already played four matches on our Asia tour before the two games at the Emirates cup and then we had a further game against Manchester City. Seven games in total, this time round we will have played only four games before the FA Community Shield match against Man City. I guess that will be used as a friendly also but I'm pretty sure we are restricted to the amount of substitutes used.
Due to late arrival of most of the World Cup crew I suspect that we will see a side closer to our first team tomorrow thus giving them an extra day preparation and we will see more of a squad game today. I could be wrong though.
Even a squad team is rather exciting this year given the amount of new faces we have in the squad. It's always fun casting your eye over new players for the first time and trying to work out what they will give us going forward. David Ospina will not feature due to a little bit thigh niggle or something which is a shame because he would have probably played today. Yaya Sanogo and Thomas Vermaelen also join him on the sidelines.
Arsène spoke about Sanchez and his ability to play as both centre forward and wide forward so I suspect that we will see him for 15-20 minutes from the bench as a striker today and 60 minutes or so as a wide forward tomorrow. Or of course the other way around. Perhaps we will see the same with Joel Campbell who Arsène said would be featuring today. He and perhaps Chuba Akpom will share the central striking position today and I guess both can play out wide also. Is this the most versatile and flexible squad that Arsène has ever had? Quite possibly so.
It will be interesting to see what happens at centre back. Mertesacker is not back and Vermaelen is 'injured' or maybe he is just simply injured, either way he is not around today so I assume that new boy Chambers gets the chance to show what he can do but who will play alongside him? Miquel? Ajayi? Hayden? I'm not too sure.
Our defence looks a bit on the young side so I wonder if Arsène will add some experience for part of the game. Monreal is likely to play I reckon but maybe either Koscielny or Debuchy will feature also.
Our midfield looks pretty healthy even without our best players playing. If we do end up start a second string side then one of Diaby or Flamini would miss out and that is without the hopeful new signing of a defensive midfielder. That area of the pitch looks pretty strong to me.
I wonder if Arsène will experiment with Diaby and play him deeper or both Jack and Abou for example as double pivots. Surely that is the plan for someone like Khedira so it would make sense to try it out today with another player. I hope Chamberlain hits the ground running this pre season, it is a big year for him he started last pre season on fire but got crocked in the first game of the season. I hope he makes huge strides this season if he does then Santi's place will be under threat.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
There should be some interesting talking points after the game given the new boys on show today and I must say, I am looking forward to it. Enjoy the game guys and girls. Post match thoughts later