Monday, July 11, 2011

Pre-season Match Focus

Pre-season matches have been offering excellent opportunities to assess how Arsenal's new signings fitted in the team and presenting the stage for young and upcoming players to shine. Jack Wilshre's performance attracted attention in the Emirates Cup competition two years ago, while Emmanuel Frimpong displayed his potential in the last year's pre-season matches. Unfortunately, Frimpong's knee injury at the beginning of the last season hampered further progress for the following 10 months, but we are hoping to see him continuing his progress this season. Hopefully, this season will prove to be a break-through season for him just like the last season was for Jack Wilshere.

Arsenal's travelling squad are: Wojciech Szczesny, Vito Mannone, Sebastien Squillaci, Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, Ryo Miyaichi, Armand Traore, Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott, Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Denilson, Aaron Ramsey, Emmanuel Frimpong, Samir Nasri, Carlos Vela, Robin van Persie

It now seems unlikely that we will see any big-name new signing taking part in the Asian tour as there is little time for Gervinho, whose arrival at the Emirates Stadium has just been announced, to join the travelling party. I don't think the other new signing, Carl Jenkinson, will make a big impact on the first team this season, but it is interesting to see how he plays alongside the first-team players.

Another new player for us to watch is Ryo Miyaichi who joined Arsenal in January, but was sent on loan straight away to Feyenord  for the work permit reasons. The 18 year-old Japanese is highly rated by the media and fans alike and Arsenal seem to be promoting him big time ahead of the Asian tour. Let's see if he lives up to expectations.

Also, following the departure of Gael Clichy, the pre-season matches should present an ideal opportunity to see which existing players can fill his shoes or if we have to bring in a new player. The obvious successor is Kieran Gibbs, but he seems to me not quite ready yet and too injury-prone. Armand Traore is also included in the squad, but he did not have enough playing time with Juventus last season and he still has a lot to prove. Another option for the left-back Arsene Wenger has mentioned is Tomas Vermaelen. No doubt Wenger will try this option in the forthcoming pre-season matches.

The conspicuous omission in the squad is Cesc Fabregas, who currently has a hamstring problem. Apparently, he tweeted that he would make up for his absence later for Arsenal fans in Asia, which was interpreted as a suggestion that he may stay at Arsenal.

Arsenal's pre-season will kick off with the friendly game against Malaysia XI on Wednesday at 14:45 Spanish time.

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