Incredibly, Arsenal are already back in action. As far as I’m aware we’re the first Premier League side to play any kind of friendly this summer. And if that weren’t enough, we don’t just face off against one side today, but two: after 45 minutes against Anderlecht, we will play a further 45 against hosts and top flight newcomers Southampton.
It’ll be a very unfamiliar Arsenal side. First-teamers Gervinho, Chamakh, Djourou, Santos and Gibbs are all included, as well as the likes of Coquelin, Bartley, Lansbury and Mannone. The rest of the squad will be made up with youth-team players.
It’s possible triallist M’Baye Niang will be given a run out. If you don’t know too much about Caen’s teenage forward, you can read French Football Weekly’s profile of him here. Caen have confirmed that Niang is on trial at Arsenal with their permission, and as yet no bids for him have been received, despite reported interest from Francophiles Newcastle.
Arsenal.com aren’t showing the match live but will be tweeting updates @Arsenal. If I can get a stream working I’ll try and do some stuff over on @Gunnerblog too, but it may be I have to wait to see highlights on the Sunday. It’ll be a fairly low-key affair: Arsenal don’t play another friendly for 10 days, and presumably we will use the opportunity mainly to help these players build their stamina.
Presumably when we face Southampton we might get a glimpse of our new away kit in action. The purple and black hoops have received a bit of stick from some fans. I have to confess I’m not really too bothered about what our kits look like: my attitude towards them is defined more by the results we achieve in them. If we win something in that kit, I’ll love it, pure and simple.
Of course, winning anything at all is going to be tricky, what with our star players wanting to leave all the time. In this recent interview, scout Gilles Grimandi as good as admitted that Olivier Giroud was bought with half an eye on Robin van Persie’s potential exit:
“Was the recruitment of Olivier Giroud made to compensate for his departure? Yes, we work to avoid being cornered. But we do everything to keep him [Van Persie] and we want him to stay.
If there’s a great offer and if he wants to leave and it will be difficult to keep him.”
The pressure on new boy Giroud grows daily. If Van Persie leaves – and in my opinion that is by far the most likely outcome here – the burden the Frenchman will have to shoulder will be immense. And as each day goes by without news on Theo Walcott’s contract, that situation gets more perplexing too.
It’s going to be another one of those summers…