Now we’re talking. Pre-season may not have gone according to plan in regards to fixtures and travel but Arsenal have still managed to enjoy four matches against a decent level of opposition. With the Mind Series coming up, it’s time for a real test.
Scotland was the perfect getaway to start the summer. While results against Hibernian and Rangers may not have produced the desired results, the short travel time and sunny climate provided a neat backdrop to regaining fitness.
The cancelled Florida Cup may well have turned out to be a blessing in disguise so long as those affected with the coronavirus are recovering well, as the reduced (almost non-existent) travel has allowed for additional training sessions.
Fitness has improved across each fixture as per usual, with Millwall being put to the sword 4-1 at London Colney before a repeat result against Watford on Wednesday saw Arsenal make it back-to-back victories.
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Arsenal predicted lineup vs Chelsea: Strong XI expected from Mikel Arteta for Sunday’s pre-season clash at the Emirates Stadium
With the fans in attendance on Sunday, the visit of Chelsea will be the sternest test yet. Unfortunately the Blues won a pretty special trophy last season meaning they needn’t be too concerned about their own lack of signings, since you tend not to fix what isn’t broken.
Arsenal have three news boys heading into the Emirates Stadium clash and it will be interesting to see whether Mikel Arteta opts to hand one of them his first start in front of his new supporters.
A strong side is expected when Chelsea come to town given that the final fixture of pre-season, against Tottenham, comes just four full days before the actual Premier League campaign begins on August 13.
The fans will get their first real glimpse of what the team looks like heading into 2021/22 and the manager knows a solid display will do wonders to lift the mood as fans begin to grow restless over the lack of transfer activity in and out of the club. The team will reflect the quality of the opposition.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Being placed straight back into the starting lineup for the Watford clash despite only arriving from holiday a few days prior, Leno’s importance was made clear. That is helped by him being supported by a 19-year-old without any top-flight experience, and Alex Runarsson.
Calum Chambers (RB) – Played centre-back last time and showed strong positioning. However, he is best at right-back and on Sunday it’s likely that his fellow full-back will do the majority of the attacking.
Rob Holding (CB) – It’s either Holding or Chambers to play here given Ben White is not yet up to speed, and Chambers being better suited to full-back makes this decision a fairly obvious one.
Pablo Mari (CB) – Same as above only that if it isn’t Mari then it’s Sead Kolasinac, which nobody wants to see. Heading to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, you’d be a touch miffed that you’re hard earned money was partly being spent on watching Kolasinac playing centre-back.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – Scored a half-volley with his right foot against Watford (we’ll ignore where he scored from) and looked sharp as a knife when he came on. Nuno Tavares is still very raw and will need time so Tierney is the obvious pick.