by Andrew Crawshaw
The annual pre-season friendly match between (non-league) Borehamwood FC and Arsenal takes place on Thursday evening with a 19:30 kick-off.
It is expected that the Arsenal team will comprise a mixture of U18 and U23 players, but with the Emirates Cup matches at the weekend, I suspect the team sheet will probably tell us more about who is unlikely to feature on Saturday and Sunday than anything else. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a number of our ‘Fringe’ first team players being given pitch time as they try to impress suitors for moves away from the club either on loan or permanent.
There is a close link between the two clubs as Arsenal play their PL2 matches (U23s), and Arsenal Ladies games at the ground. As such the state of the playing surface and facilities are of prime importance to the club.
Whilst for the most part the Borehamwood pitch has had a good surface, one corner has been prone to waterlogging in prolonged wet weather and the shelters for coaches, subs etc have been fairly rudimentary (at least by Arsenal’s standards) for as long as I have been going to the ground. This spring has seen a massive investment in new facilities at the ground, funded by both clubs and a grant from the Premier League.
So this year the match will also be about the official unveiling of the new ‘million dollar’ Desso pitch, dugouts, the full size 4G training pitch and floodlights with Arsène Wenger and Ivan Gazidis set to do the ribbon cutting pre kick-off.
The Borehamwood Chairman also confirmed that the brand-new 4G pitch and training facility that the club have built over the summer, will be officially opened with a fixture against Barnet Football Club on Monday, July 31. There will be a pre-game training session on the pitch for local youngsters before the Arsenal game.
“We will officially open the 4G pitch by playing a competitive first team game against our friends from Barnet Football Club, who will provide an under 23 side with more than a few of their first team squad playing.
“The game will be part of a community evening, it will be completely free of charge and, as it will be in the summer holidays, will be a night for the kids.”
The Wood Chairman concluded by telling supporters:
“In the meantime, I can tell you that our new Desso match-day pitch not only looks a million dollars, but has probably cost that much as well. The new dugouts installed are pretty damn amazing as they are of premier league standard. While, the new LED 500 lux floodlights will be installed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and will illuminate our new facility beautifully.
“We have worked alongside our on-site contractors and have all endeavoured to complete each part of the overall project within a 10-week time frame.”
Match tickets are available on the turnstile before kickoff priced Adults £14, Concessions £12, U16s £8 and U1s £4. Production of a 2017/18 season ticket (Arsenal or Borehamwood) will get you in for half price.
Gates open at 18:15 and I would strongly suggest that if you wish to get a seat you arrive well before kickoff as the ground is likely to get very full
Arsenal Team from
First Team ‘Fringe’ – Debuchy, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Akpom, Jeff Reine-Adelaide
U23 players – Matt Macey (GK), Deyan Iliev (GK), Ryan Huddart (GK), Julio Pleguzuelo, Tafari Moore, Chiori Johnson, Ismael Bennacer, Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf, Stephy Mavididi, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Joshua Da Silva, Krystian Bielik, Eddie Nketiah
U18 players – Tolaji Bola, Yassin Fortune, Marcus McGuane, Charlie Gilmour, Vlad Dragomir, , Nathan Tormey
Second Year Academy Players – Daniel Ballard, Joseph Olowu, Josh Benson, Jay Beckford, Tobi Omole, Robbie Burton, Emile Smith-Rowe, Zech Medley, Dominic Thomson
Manager – Steve Gatting
I know that’s far too many players for one match but I really haven’t a clue as to whom Steve Gatting will select. I have omitted the youngsters who were on the Far-Eastern trip (other than Krystian Bielik and Eddie Nketiah – who are said by Arsenal as likely to be involved) as they are probably likely to be at the Emirates Cup this weekend. There is also an U18 pre-season game tonight (Wednesday) so some of those I’ve listed may well be required for that game.
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This is an on-going series of articles, and the current episodes reveal more about the thinking behind the move to Highbury (as opposed to anywhere else) than has ever been revealed before.
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