Just in case you didn’t see last night, the Arsenal squad set off for their pre-season tours of Australia and China. This pre-season will see us play against Sydney FC (July 13th), Western City Wanderers (July 15th), Bayern Munich (July 19th) and Chelsea (July 22nd) before the Emirates Cup at the end of the month. If you haven’t seen the squad yet here are the 25 players that were selected to travel, and I have to say this does excite me.
Petr Cech, Emi Martinez, David Ospina, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Krystian Bielik, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Cohen Bramall, Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Joe Willock, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Eddie Nketiah, Donyell Malen, Reiss Nelson, Olivier Giroud, Alexandre Lacazette.
Looking at the squad there are a few signs of what we might be able to expect. Maybe with no real right backs selected we’ll continue playing three at the back with the Ox down the right and with so many youngsters in the squad, how much of them will we get to see as well as new signings Kolasinac and Lacazette. In regard to the youngsters in the squad here are a few I think people should keep an eye out for.
For me, Maitland-Niles is the most likely of the youngsters to get minutes on the tour. After a loan spell at Ipswich Town in 2015-16 and being part of the England Under 20’s World Cup winning squad, his development has gone well and it finally looks like it’s time for him to make the step up to the first team.
He’s shown his versatility when included in the first team of late but I see him more as a central midfielder, hopefully on the tour he can really nail down that position. Playing seven times last season I feel Wenger will welcome the opportunity to gel yet another academy graduate into the squad and I don’t see the 19-year-old disappointing.
If you’re not already familiar with Malen he’s a very quick forward with great technical ability, whether that’s dribbling or finishing. The 18-year-old came to Arsenal from Ajax a couple of years ago and has featured in our under 18’s and under 23’s sides. This will be his and a few other’s first glimpse of first team football if they get minutes on tour.
One thing I’m hoping to see is Malen play centrally rather than on the wing where he was deployed occasionally last season and of course, I’d like to see him score at least once and show Wenger why he should be in and around the first team this season.
Another impressing young talent that lines up in a striking role after 24 goals from 23 starts at youth level last season, so he certainly deserves his seat on the plane to Australia.
Like Malen, he possesses good pace as well as great finishing ability so hopefully, with so much competition for places on the tour, that can drive them to improve each other as well as themselves going into the upcoming season.
Playing more as an attacking midfielder the 17-year-old impressed massively last season for the youth teams. Nelson is a very confident player with the ball at his feet and from what I understand Wenger does like him and I won’t be surprised to see him get a good amount of minutes this month.
After signing for us from Legia Warsaw in January 2015 Bielik featured mostly for our under 23’s before being loaned to Birmingham City in the Championship last season. Bielik is a player that looks to be a very good fit for Arsenal as he can play both as a defensive midfielder or centre back with attributes that suit both, being very composed on the ball and having the physique to match.
The 19-year-old has played a couple of first team games already, but this is a chance for him to really make his mark on Wenger and push to become part of the squad for the new season.
I hope you enjoyed the read but most importantly I hope you enjoy the pre-season tour of Australia and China as we’re set to see some really encouraging young talents.