Match day for The Arsenal!
Alright, it is only the Community Shield and ok, it’s Liverpool. But a match day is a match day and this is one in which I don’t have the usual nerves or fear of what a result will do to our season. That’s because, frankly, it doesn’t matter. As Arteta explained on Thursday the team has had just two training sessions and for some of the players they didn’t even get on the pitch in midweek against MK Dons.
So this afternoons game is essentially a pre season fitness exercise for these players and whilst it wasn’t too long ago that they lost their conditioning, having played less than a month ago in the FA Cup final, there will still need to be an element of protection for them today. We don’t want them dropping like flies with just two weeks to go until the proper football season starts.
I suspect we’ll see more of the faces that didn’t play against MK Dons and I am hoping that Emi Martinez plays today. the latest rumours emanating yesterday were that he wants to be a number one and hopes Arsenal will let him go for half of their valuation. Apparently we value him at £20million and given that he looks a lot more impressive than the Bournemouth ‘keeper who went for £18million, the idea that we’d lower our value to £10million just so he can leave seems fanciful to me.
Which may mean that Arsenal need to keep hold of him and unless a big bid comes in he’ll have to accept his situation. Just don’t sell him to an English club, Arsenal! The last thing we want to do is strengthen him to a rival.
I think he might be a better ‘keeper than Leno though so I’m hoping that we might get more of an opportunity to see him this season. Hopefully that starts today.
I also hope we see Bellerin, Luiz, Kolasinac (I think he’s fit), Torreira, Pepe and Lacazette. Heck, maybe even a Guendouzi on the bench because regardless if some players are up for sale, we don’t want to weaken our positioning by not considering them for selection. So I hope all of the above players get some minutes of some kind.
We’ll start to get an idea as soon as the bus arrives at Wembley and we can – literally – see who’s on it.
The game itself will probably be very stop-start and there will probably be plenty of subs to be had, at least in the second half, so I’m not expecting it to be a fantastically flowing natch. But it will be interesting to see how strong Liverpool are in their first XI selection. I believe in their most recent friendly they picked the strongest possible XI and if that’s the case it feels like they might to the same today. If so I will be fascinated to see how Klopp approaches this game because it feels like it might be more like the time Wenger fielded a team of kids for the League Cup final against Chelski, whereas Mourinho went full strength because he wanted the trophy.
It isn’t the same because this isn’t a proper trophy but I’ll certainly be tuning in to see how we stack up against the Champions. Not least because it’ll be another big game in which Arteta has to mastermind some kind of performance against a technically superior side. But at least we can go into these games believing that we have somebody who might have something up his sleeve. In the last years of Wenger’s reign every big game away from home was essentially an ‘L’ and whilst this is a neutral ground, it’s still an away game for us.
Liverpool will dominate possession, we’ll need to be compact, but whoever plays in that midfield will have to replicate the effectiveness of that Xhaka/Ceballos partnership that was formed towards the end of last season. I don’t think we have the personnel to do it at the moment and hopefully after today that becomes the priority, because I think it might look like a very stark reality if a midfield containing Xhaka and Torreira get overrun by the athleticism and power of Liverpool’s midfield and forward runners.
Hey, like I said though, this is just a good opportunity to test out some players, the tactical approach in a big game and doing so in an environment that doesn’t feel like it’s too high stakes. I’m good with that.
And that’s pretty much all there is to say about this game today I think. I don’t think we’ll beat Liverpool so for me this game is just learning a little more about how Arteta is going to set us up this season. So I’m going to just try to enjoy the fact that The Arsenal are back.
Catch you peeps tomorrow.