By Bulldog Drummond
It seems months since Arsenal last played a game, and it literally has been months. You’ll recall the end of Mr Wenger’s reign I’m sure…
|06 May 2018||Arsenal v Burnley||W||5-0||Premier League|
|09 May 2018||Leicester City v Arsenal||L||3-1||Premier League|
|13 May 2018||Huddersfield Town v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
A fine win over Burnley, who the newspapers were telling us through the last month of the campaign, would beat us into sixth place and thus cause Arsenal to be playing competitive games in July. It was never the slightest bit likely of course but these journos do like to have their bit of fun. (Burnley start their competitive season on 26 July against Aberdeen in the Europa).
Meanwhile we start this weekend against Boreham Wood after which we appear to have a two week break before we play Atletico Madrid and then PSG in Singapore.
So as we approach the first match of the season, the return of real football – club football, this Saturday, we can start to compare the state of Arsenal with those of the other major clubs in the Premier League as each prepares for the new season.
The main question is how many players of each club are still stuck in Russia playing in the WC. Here are the numbers team by team…
- Tottenham Hotspur9
- Manchester City 7
- Chelsea 7
- Manchester United 7
- Liverpool! 4
- Arsenal 1
That gives a bit of an advantage for Liverpool and even more for Arsenal, for two reasons. First because the other clubs will find it harder to do their pre-season preparation with their players away, and second because these players will not even be fit to re-start football when the season begins – let alone play in any warm up friendlies.
Roughly speaking (and of course some clubs might try and change these dates and risk injury or burn out to some of their players simply to avoid a poor start) the players should be on holiday until around 14 August – since all the players still in the WC will be available to play in the final or the 3rd/4th place match.
They would then come back to training and perhaps be ready for the third match of the season – after which they will be fully up to speed for the first round of international matches for the 2018/19 season. You have to admit the timing by Fifa is rather clever – keep the footballers out of club football as much as possible so they will be fit for the next round of international games.
One is reminded yet again of the similarity of international managers and car thieves who steal you car, smash it up, return it to you and tell you to have it ready for the next time.
Arsenal on the other hand will have much of their squad available for the first pre-season training match this weekend against Boreham Wood FC.
As a rough guide I think these players from the first team squad should be available to play half a match…
Goal: Cech, Leno, Martinez.
Full backs: Bellerin, Lichsteiner, Kolasinac, Monreal, Jenkinson,
Central defence: Holding Mustafi, Chambers, Mavropanos,
Midfield: Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Reine-Adelaide, Nelson
Forward: Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Aubamayang, Akpom, Eddie
In addition we will have other members of the under 23 squad who have also been pushing for first team places including…
Defence: Bielik, Bramall,
Midfield: Willock, Shefa
I’ve missed out the keepers from this list because I am not sure what is going on. Arsenal.com shows Cech, Leno, Martinez and Ospina as the first team keepers, but there is talk of Ospina leaving the club. Macey is now listed with Iliev and Virginia in the Academy squad, Macey having been in the first team squad last season. We’ll have to see – if you know what is happening there please do write in.
Which ones are given a chance will of course give us an indication of what is to happen in the forthcoming months.
More on the Boreham Wood game later.
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