Our pre-season continues in earnest with a match against Ligue Un’s Angers, and an opportunity to get ever nearer to the desired match sharpness we will need in little over a week when the Premier League finally kicks off.
Our last two friendly games have ended in defeat in quite different circumstances. Two games ago we faced Real Madrid and were defeated on penalties after having the game in our grasp – although the fixture itself was a great workout for the players.
Then, our last game was in The Emirates Cup, where we faced Lyon and despite taking a first half lead, we lost the game to two second half goals from Moussa Dembele.
While results weren’t the greatest, Unai Emery will have no doubt been pleased with the stringent nature of the games themselves. All the squad have had a good runout and tactics will have been honed somewhat, but the preparation doesn’t end there, and Angers will be looking to crank up their regime before Le Championnat begins too.
Unai Emery, this close to the season starting, has some decisions to make.
Alexandre Lacazette retired hurt after just 12 minutes in the match against former side Lyon. It was a precaution and the French striker will be fit, but it I now unlikely Emery would risk Laca for this game, so Eddie Nketiah could get the nod up top.
The youngsters will be champing at the bit to get involved once more, and the likes of Robbie Burton, Zech Medley, James Olayinka, Tyreece John-Jules and Reiss Nelson will be hoping to get involved again. With Emile Smith-Rowe now fit too and Jo Willock firing on all cylinders, this game could definitely have a youthful flavour.
We also need to get our big players sharp too. Matteo Guendouzi played well against Lyon and could play again, and Granit Xhaka too may well play.
Our defence needs to have its first choice established, so a start here for the likes of Calum Chambers could bode well for the near future.
One to Watch
Former Gunner Reine-Adelaide – known affectionately as ‘The Jeff’ by Gooners during his time at Arsenal – took the chance to earn first team football when Ligue Un Angers came calling last year. It may well have been the right choice for the midfielder, who earned 29 starts last season. We know all too well what Jeff can do and he was one of the hottest prodigies during his time here, and the likes of Guendouzi and our full-backs will need to be switched on to cut out his killer passing and his loping runs.
How This Could Go
Angers are celebrating their centenary year and will look to earn a famous victory over Arsenal here, even if this game is strictly a friendly. The Stade Raymond Kopa holds fewer than 18000, which also pretty much guarantees a strong support for the home team and a small allocation for us Gooners.
Angers finished 13th, a fair distance away from relegation but nowhere really near challenging for European competition. Their football relies on a strong influx of youth players, so pace is always an asset, but tactical nous may well be missing.
This match will not be a tight affair. Our boys will have plenty of chances to get on the scoresheet, and it will be interesting to see how our playmakers adapt to the space they will be afforded.
Which midfielder will rise to the fore to supply our attack? Whatever man does so could find himself in the team for the first game of the season against Newcastle.
I foresee a win here, and our strikers to get on the scoresheet, and our midfield to impress.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Auba, Mkhitaryan, Nelson, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 3-0 to The Arsenal