Our American tour continues, and this time, the International Champions Cup rolls into town as we take on the Bavarian might of Bayern Munich.
The Germans have given us some frightful memories in the recent past, and their squad is resplendent with household names. Both teams will be looking for the same thing though.
This game is the perfect opportunity for the squad players to stake their claim but above all else, this is a fitness exercise against an opponent that should test the fibres of their team. Unai Emery will be looking for his men to push themselves and adhere to his tactics and those who do it best will do their prospects no harm whatsoever.
Our win over Colorado Rapids only two days ago was a good exercise for our kids, but we can expect a few of our bigger names to come into the side. The likes of Granit Xhaka, Nacho Monreal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette will be chomping at the bit to get apiece of the action, and with Bayern likely fielding a strong side, we have no choice but to compete.
Matt Macey will likely give way to one of Emi Martinez or Bernd Leno in goal. Zech Medley may get another chance to prove his worth in defence, but Sokratis should come back into the side. Calum Chambers captained the side well against Colorado, and could keep his place too. Emery has plenty of decisions to make.
Granit Xhaka should replace James Olayinka, but the youngster did well in our last game so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was named. Jo Willock could get a start also.
Then there is the matter of our forward line. Bukayo Saka played a blinder against the Rapids, as did Tyreece John-Jules. Then there is the matter of Reiss Nelson who surely must be in line to get some minutes, as well as our more established names of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexandre Lacazette. Emile Smith-Rowe stands by too.
So there are plenty of players to choose from for this game. Who will Emery go for?
Player to watch
The former Gunner has gone from strength to strength since having his loan spell to West Brom end early. The winger left Arsenal for the Bundesliga and a short time later, was snapped up by Bayern. Now a German international regular, Gnabry was Bayern’s Player of the Year last season for good reason. His dribbling, vision and shot are superb and Gnabry could cut us to ribbons if his eye is in. If our defenders are lacking a yard, we could be punished heavily.
How this could go
Bayern will look to control the possession, but a probable reshuffle of a very big pack could open the door for us to strike. A loss of momentum will be on the cards, which is when our attack can hurt them the most. Bayern will need to give minutes to as many as possible, so a mass substitution is likely.
With our attack, width is our best option. Whether that be cutting in from wide areas or staying out on the flank to zip crosses in, players like Saka, Nelson and John-Jules will be vital to stretch what will be a very organised pack.
A decent supply and a hard working midfield will be fundamental and if Xhaka starts, it will be very interesting to see how he tots up against the bigger boys. Can Xhaka show his worth?
If he can then we may stand a chance.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Olayinka, Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2