Not much news on the Arsenal front, although Santi Cazorla has travelled to Germany for pre-season training and the friendly match against FC Köln on Sunday.
I really hope that Arsene is going to treat this game a bit more seriously than the ones on the Far Eastern tour. I would like to see him field a true first XI team – or something resembling one – for at least 60 minutes, before making the wholesale changes that are typical of this type of match.
It’s vitally important that the defence is treated as a unit and is not subjected to the mix-and-match shambles that existed at the start of last season. We may get some hint as to the preferences in the back four. Taking into account the continuing absence of Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson is most probably the first choice at right back. I think overall fitness will dictate the choice of centre-backs, with Per Mertesacker likely to be given further recovery time, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen should start with Andre Santos to complete the defence in front of the wearer of the No.1 shirt, Wojciech Szczesny.
So many factors will come into play that the midfield and attack is almost impossible to call. Will van Persie, Arshavin and Bendtner be available? Does Aaron Ramsey need a break after his efforts in the Olympic squad? Will Cazorla feature? Tomas Rosicky is absent through injury as are both Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong. The two new additions to the squad Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski could feature although, the latter has yet to be given a squad number. He is no doubt waiting to see if his preferred No.10 becomes available; if not then any of 9, 11, 23, 29 or 52 could be up for grabs.
One thing for sure, unless van Persie commits himself fully to the club he should remain on the bench and the captaincy be passed to A.N. Other.
Just a few days until the new season kicks-off: I can’t wait!