Sydney v Arsenal. The teams, the opposition, the stadium, the Sydney fans.

By Tony Attwood

Trying to pick a line up before the first friendly of the summer is tough going.  For example, I have no idea which of the keepers will get a game today, but I suspect we will have one in the first half and a different one in the second.   Cech and Ooooospina for today perhaps.

As the wing backs we know that we can have Saed Kolasinac or Nacho Monreal on the left and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Hector Bellerin on the right.

For this game I am going for Kolasinac on the left and the Ox as the wing back on the right.   This leaves Monreal free to play in the centre back role.

Our centre backs for the coming season are Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel with of course Monreal if he is not a wing back.

From these for this game we have Koscielny (obviously the red card before the cup final doesn’t affect friendlies), Mertesacker and Monreal with someone else from the squad as a back up: I suspect Krystian Bielik is an obvious choice, but given that players will have to be spaced out over the four games of the tour we obviously have someone else who could fill in there.  Maybe Coquelin?

If there is another good central defender in the squad please do say.  (Andrew, can you help me out???)

Thus far we have got

Cech / Ospina

Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal

The Ox                                            Kolasinac


Now we know that Alexandre Lacazette will play (and I suspect that means he will start), and we know he can play both left and right wing, and I suspect Giroud will get a game if, as seems to be the case, the club want to keep him.   In the midfield the obvious pairing is Ramsey and Xhaka if we are going to give the first teamers an immediate game out.

I think this might be the case for this opening match, with more of the under 21s playing in the second Sydney match.

Ramsey  Xhaka

Theo     Giroud   Lacazette

The players from the end of last season who are in Australia and who are missing in this line up are Welbeck (who could play instead of Theo or be saved to start the second game) and Ozil

Of course this is all guesswork, and the resultant team could be completely different, but I am working on the basis that, as I mentioned, that we will use a stronger starting XI for this match than in the second game, (not least because this is the toughest of the two Australian games) and that the under 21s will be used as subs, playing the last half hour of the match.

In the cup final we played Ozil / Alexis / Welbeck, so we could leave Giroud and Theo on the beach and play the cup final three instead giving an overall team of

Cech / Ospina

Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal

The Ox                                            Kolasinac

Ramsey            Xhaka

Ozil            Lacazette         Welbeck


Of course it is all total guesswork.  But there is less guesswork involved in saying that this is the stadium.

Sydney FC won the A League last season and beat Melbourne Victory in the play off final.  As the league table suggests, they were a long way ahead of the competition for the season.

Pos Club Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Sydney FC 27 20 6 1 55 12 +43 66
2 Melbourne Victory 27 15 4 8 49 31 +18 49
3 Brisbane 27 11 9 7 43 37 +6 42
4 Melbourne Heart 27 11 6 10 49 44 +5 39
5 Perth Glory 27 10 9 8 53 53 0 39
6 Western Sydney 27 8 12 7 35 35 0 36
7 Wellington Phoenix 27 8 6 13 41 46 -5 30
8 Central Coast Mariners 27 6 5 16 31 52 -21 23
9 Adelaide United 27 5 8 14 25 46 -21 23
10 Newcastle 27 5 7 15 28 53 -25 22

Sydney FC was formed in 2004 and plays at the Allianz Stadium (above), a 45,500 seat multi-use venue in the suburbs.   As Sydney was the first team in the city to play in the A League it has tended to draw support from all over the metropolitan area, and has become the club that buys in high profile players to boost its ranks.  (If you have never been to Sydney, do try and get there, even if for you, like me, it means a 28 hour journey.  It is the most amazing of places, for its beauty, its beaches, its night life and restaurants, its… everything.  I’m lucky in having a daughter who lives there, which means an annual trip, but do try and do it once.  It is amazing).

For the season just completed the club reworked its squad, signing two players from Melbourne City (Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo).   Danny Vukovic in goals is  the A-League’s most capped player.   Bernie Ibini played last season on loan from Club Brugge, and the Brazilian forward  Bobô played on a one-year deal alongside Holosko.

They went 19 league games unbeaten before losing to Western Sydney and won the title with four games spare, gaining the most points ever in the A League, the most wins in a season, fewest goals conceded, most clean sheets and best goal difference.  

As for the fans, the main supporter group is “The Cove” at the Padddington end of the stadium – named after the first settlement in the region: Sydney Cove.   The Cove has been known for being very supportive of the Australian LGBT community (which might surprise you if all you know of Australia is Queensland stereotypes), with rainbow flags being on display.  The Cove were also involved in the creation of the club badge.

Here’s a reminder of the full squad for the four match tour The asterisks are for the under 21s who will not be counted as part of the coming season’s “25”.

Petr Cech (GK)
Emi Martinez (GK)
David Ospina (GK)
Krystian Bielik *
Cohen Bramall *
Francis Coquelin
Mohamed Elneny
Olivier Giroud
Alex Iwobi *
Sead Kolasinac
Laurent Koscielny
Alexandre Lacazette
Ainsley Maitland-Niles *
Donyell Malen *
Per Mertesacker
Nacho Monreal
Reiss Nelson *
Eddie Nketiah *
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Mesut Ozil
Aaron Ramsey
Theo Walcott
Danny Welbeck
Joe Willock *
Granit Xhaka

A few recent posts to keep you amused before kick off

The Out Index: the 26 (yes 26) players said to be leaving Arsenal this summer.

Which of the top 10 teams of last season has completed the most transfers and who has spent the most?

Suddenly the media all focus on the same man for Arsenal’s next transfer.


15 Replies to “Sydney v Arsenal. The teams, the opposition, the stadium, the Sydney fans.”

  1. ‘If there is another good central defender in the squad please do say.’

    Calum Chambers?

  2. The players who will likely be the CBS on tour are Mert, Kos, Bielik and Nacho. Bramall is over 21 and will share the left wing back duties with Kolasinac.

    I suspect that Maitland-Niles will probably share right wing back duties with The Ox, as the Ox is making it plain he wants to move into centre MF, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him spending more time there than at wing back.

    The Central Midfielders are Coquelin, Elneny, Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil

    Wide attackers are Theo, Iwobi, Willock, Nelson

    Central attackers are Giroud, Lacazette, Wellbeck with the youngsters Malen and Nketiah.

    It is somewhat experimental regarding the right back as we haven’t taken a specialist in that position. We have taken two experienced CBs with an U 21 player and Nacho as backups so, barring injuries, we are adequate there. Midfield looks well covered with our normal first team starters in the squad. Wide attack again looks sorted with first team regulars suppoered by U21 players and extra cover from central strikers who can also play wide. Our central attack force looks, if anything, top heavy. Three players who will be seeking to establish themselves as top of the ‘pecking order’ and two youngsters looking to show they should be included at this level. I expect lots of shots on goal if not actual goals.

    A reminder – the game is on Arsenal Player 10:45 UK time this morning with kickoff at 11:00.

  3. MickHazel, I went through the list of the 25 five times but I did not see Chambers’ name on it. Maybe my eyes are missing something.

    Anyway, that’s not important. What is important is for Arsenal to start their first pre-season match on the front foot by beating the 13 year old Sydney United resoundingly well irrespective whether the match is a pre-season friendly match doesn’t mean. Every game is important. Whether friendly or competitive, And Arsenal have to win them to inculcate into themselves the culture of winning games always and imbibe in it.

    Injuries suffered to some of our centr-backs and extended holiday allowed some of them has limit Arsenal to only 3 centrebacks to start this friendly match. Therefore, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Monreal will have a field day to parade themselves. But who replaces one or some of them when necessary during the match? Francis Coquelin & Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Krystian Bielik? Then, there are substitutes who can replace them.

    Let me indulge myself into making a starting XI for this friendly match with of course the remaining 14 as substitutes for the match which is allowed since it’s a friendly.

    My starts:
    Koscielny Mert’ Monreal (back-3)

    Bellerin Kolasinac (wing-backs)

    Ramsey Xhaka (midfield-duo)

    Walcott Lacazette Iwobi.

    Since the cloud of sales is hovering on Giroud and the Ox, I’ve decided to leave them out of this match to avoid any unforeseen misshappenings.
    Notwithstanding, since Walcott has said he has talked to Le Prof to know the role he’ll play in the last season’s new Arsenal 3-4-3 playing formation and if it’s stick to next season. And that Le Prof has assured him he’s in his plans in that new 3-4-3, and since the £140k/w Walcott is not agitating to leave Arsenal this summer like some have voiced out but he wants to stay. I’ve decided to start him in this match to prove his mettle he can actually start and be efficiently productive in the Arsenal’s new 3-4-3 playing formation.

    I’ve also decided to start the noise making Alex Iwobi in this match to see if he changed from been flattering to take his game very seriously and show the evidence of his seriousness in this match showing he has stopped profigating in front of goal, but score when he has the chance to bury the chances that fell to him.

  4. I can see what we call pre season becoming the norm for football worldwide.

    Teams travel to different countries throughout the season, playsome games there against local and international teams, fly on to the next country and do the same.

  5. Hmmm, no scores up till now? Come to think of it, does Arsenal need the 21 year old Thomas Lemar at AS Monaco, even if the contract rebel Sanchez stays on beyond next season? Because of his superior game quality that’s far above that which Alex Iwobi has, I think for top quality options and cover at Arsenal’s left wing midfield position, Arsenal seriously need the services of the left wing mid-fielder Lemar. And this need brings to mind what will happen to Iwobi if Lemar is signed by Arsenal this summer and Sanchez extended his contract deal at Arsenal? Will Le Prof take the option to send Alex Iwobi out on loan this summer to a PL club to make him improved on his game? Or in the alternative, still keep him for options and cover should Sanchez leaves this summer or refuses to extend?

  6. I like that Nelson kid….he’s got speed and composture…
    Looks damn good to me.
    Can’t remember reading much about him in the past, but I guess this will change

  7. Willock, Nelson, Bramall, Bielik are shinning. There’s a way Ozil’s play makes everyone around him look great except for the opponent who are mesmerized.

    High level of energy across the team. I’m sure the fans (Arsenal and Sydney FC)are enjoying the show.

  8. Well, I won’t succumb to the idea of playing entertaining football only without end products. For, in football, such playing is what is called playing to the museum or to the gallery of arts for people to come and take a look, see, watch and marvel at the beauty and elegance of the artifice on display that are still, and doesn’t move but only entertain the eyes, but not producing any takes to convince those who seek after result.

    It took the proficiency of the Arsenal debutant Alexandre Lacazette who came on as a second half substitute to the match on 83 minutes to score the Arsenal 2nd and final goal in the match. Which saw them beat Sydney FC 0-2 @full-time. But earlier Welbeck had squandered a penalty for Arsenal by allowing the Sydney FC’s keeper to save his kick. A save that proved that Welbeck is mote a profigator in front of goal than be a proficient goal scorer. Which brings to mind, why should Le Prof be holding on too long to a goal profigator instead of to ship him out of the Emirates Stadium for good cash? And finds someone else who can do his bidding for him efficiently.

    Le Prof did give chance to some Arsenal youth players to show what they are made off in the game. But all they showed us was they are not convincing yet. And thus cannot be relied on in the immediate time until if they improved on their lacklusterness. None of them was able to score as they’ve shown to be mere flashes in the pan that can’t even light a cigar to have a puff.

    Commendation must go to Mertesacker who showed he still has venom left in him that enabled him scored for Arsenal that 4th minutes early lead goal in the game, which gave the much prepared for this match, Sydney FC a jolt. A jolt that they were unable to recover from.

    This is my own summary of how I see this match. Much ado.

  9. Samuel
    Have you considered that Welbeck deliberately took a soft penalty because of the poor decision to award the penalty in the first place? It looked to me like good sportsmanship as he didn’t seem too bothered about the save.
    Also don’t write him off so quickly after his brilliant cup final against Chelsea. These players are not up to speed yet, and Danny is a very popular player.

  10. Hi guys , long time reader first time poster, loved the fist game as I missed watching the lads play, I thought the boss did well giving our younger guys a run and while they didn’t score they did show bursts of speed and good ball control. I’m happy lacazett scored so soon after coming on . I was pleasantly surprised by pers fist goal for us…good on him.

    I felt Syd FC were way outclassed but it’s great for them to play teams like us to gain the expierence and tbh were not that bad on the counter . But that goal keeper of theirs !!! , I loved that guy …we need to sign his butt up!. He was great between the sticks, seriously …I knowcwe won, but he should of been player of the match …amazing skill.

    Anyway this is my very first ever post …please be kind lol .

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