By Tony Attwood
Times move on and we are approaching the moment when the first group of players return to Arsenal to pick up pre-season training.
Tomorrow, ex-Arsenal player, author of the book Arsenal Yankee, and Arsenal scout, Danny Karbassiyoon writes from first hand knowledge about the importance of pre-season training on Untold, but before we get to that, it is not a bad idea to have a look at who joins the first group of returning players.
The internationals and the injured won’t make it, so it gives the rest a chance to show themselves off. As far as I can see the list of early arrivals is likely to be:
- Chuba Akpom,
- Santi Cazorla,
- Francis Coquelin,
- Mohamed Elneny,
- Kieran Gibbs,
- Emiliano Martinez,
- Per Mertesacker,
- Theo Walcott
Now in addition to this we might or might not hear that the following are also around and about
- Mathieu Debuchy: I haven’t heard anything about a definitive transfer so I imagine he will be with Arsenal
- Alex Iwobi: My understanding was that he had been selected for the Olympic squad, which means he will be away, and will indeed miss much of the start of the season, since he will not only have to play the matches for his country, but then needs a holiday after. However some sites have suggested he has been dissuaded from going by Arsenal.
- Serge Gnabry: I’m quite bemused as to what is going on with him. Season before last he was flying high, then he had a disastrous loan, was back and supposedly in the play off game at the end of the season for the under 21s but at the last minute wasn’t.
- Carl Jenkinson: was injured with West Ham and returned to us crocked. He might well be still recovering.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should also be back sometime around now but I can’t find out when.
- Yaya Sanogo: the great hope a year ago, but now… after a seemingly awful year I wonder if he can pull things back together.
Obviously this isn’t quite enough to have fulsome training, so I imagine a few others will step up. This is the moment when youngsters get their first big chance to shine and Mr Wenger will judge if they really have the talent or if they freeze in the moment.
- Krystian Bielik has been touted as a promising start of the future at centre back, so he could be given a chance.
- Matt Macey looks the obvious backup keeper while the others recover from international duty
- Julio Pleguezuelo is another centre back who has been catching attention.
- Jeff Reine-Adelaide made quite an impact at the Emirates Cup last year and played as a sub in two matches this past season so should be there again
- Jon Toral had a brilliant season at Birmingham and has returned with every plaudit possible having been paid to him. This is his chance to shine.
- Chris Willock played in Singapore and is still being highly rated as an up and coming striker.
- Gedion Zelalem seemed to have an up and down season with Rangers, and must surely be given a chance to shine
Then there are the on going internationals at youth level. I think Tafari Moore and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were involved in the under 19s championship and won’t be ready yet.
After this the early returnees from international events could join in – the first being Joel Campbell who suffered an early exit in America and Petr Cech who had the same misfortune in France.
That looks to me like it could be the squad all the way through July unless perhaps Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina come back sooner rather than later – maybe right at the end of the month. These players will only be available, at the earliest for the very final warm up game before the season starts.
After that we should have Jack Wilshere back but I can’t see that Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, and Olivier Giroud will be back with us until the season has started.
One player who won’t be back is Arsenal Yassin Fortune who joined at the same time as Reine Adelaide, has been ruled out for two to three months through injury. He is reported to be out of the will now miss the Durban International Cup in South Africa.
So it is going to be a disjointed start to the season. But then it has ever been thus. And at least we don’t have to play a Champs League prelim game.
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Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page