by Tony Attwood
Western Sydney Wanderers were formed in April 2011 with the idea of having a club with a strong community focus.
In their first season they won the A League, which by and large is not a bad start. They currently play at Stadium Australia and Sydney Showground Stadium while their permanent home ground of Parramatta Stadium is in the process of a three-year rebuild.
The main supporters’ group for the club is the “Red and Black Bloc” and they are talked about in terms of the atmosphere they create, the chant “Who do we sing for” and performing The Poznań at the 80 minute mark of matches, in recognition of the fact that the first ever football match in Australia was played in Parramatta in 1880 – before the founding of Arsenal in fact.
Last season however they slipped down the league…
|8||Central Coast Mariners||27||6||5||16||31||52||-21||23|
So they scored 20 fewer goals than Sydney and conceded 23 more.
But it’s not a league game, and they are promising a “mammoth pre-event party” before the game with the area around the ANZ stadium bathed in red light, an Arsenal Fan Zone, with 30 international-themed food stalls and cafes with live music and roving entertainment nearby. Just like the Ems! (?)
They also do transport different in Sydney from London. All tickets for the game include return transport to and from the ground although it is perhaps reassuring that even in a modern city like Sydney they have track work going on with bus replacement services on two of the rail lines – just when there is a big match on.
The local interest in the games is enormous with around 20,000 watching Arsenal train this week. Mind you Arsenal are also doing this sort of work better than ever with players attending coaching clinics and making appearances at events for young footballers almost from the moment they arrived in the city.
In terms of teams I imagine Alexandre Lacazette will play an hour from the start along with many of the players who came on for the last part of the first game. Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and David Ospina – the three who didn’t play in the opening game are said to be playing. However the absence of Ramsey has not stopped the bloggettas speculating that he was injured and would miss the start of the season.
And that is extraordinary. A bloggetta run by a major national newspaper making up the story that an Arsenal player is injured when he isn’t. Whatever next?
Speaking of team selection Arsene Wenger said: “Laurent is suspended for the first two games so I did not need to take a gamble. There was no need to risk him.
“With Ramsey as well I was a bit cautious because last year he was troubled with injury. I wanted to give him a good build-up, a good foundation. They will both play on Saturday. Ospina just came back. I have three keepers and will rotate them this weekend.”
Theo Walcott was the only player to get any sort of knock from the first game but is still perfectly ok to feature in this match. And the stadium is once again expected to be nearly full. Indeed as a “special treat” Arsenal have brought along both the stadium announcer from the Emirates and Gunnersaurus.
Ray Parlour is also in Oz and did a Q&A although I am not too sure it was wise to run the event without a translator on hand. Ray’s Australian isn’t very good.
The Wanderers captain Robbie Cornthwaite said ahead of the game, “We’re going to try and take it to them a little bit and give them a test which they probably didn’t get [in the first game]. We’re not there just to make up the numbers or have a kick-about with these great players.”
We opened the first game with Cech, Bielik, Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Nelson, Coquelin, Willock, Bramall, Ozil, Walcott, Welbeck so it is a fair chance that none of those will play. We might have as an opening team …
Mohammed Elneny Laurent Koscielny Nacho Monreal
Ainsley Maitland-Niles Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Aaron Ramsey Granit Xhaka
Alex Iwobi Olivier Giroud Alexandre Lacazette
On the other hand we might not.
- Arsenal’s finances: another loss but going the right way
- WSL 2022-23 Arsenal v Everton – Match Preview
- Which Arsenal transfer tale is being repeated the most often?
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?