As the Emirates Cup has finally arrived, I’m not sure what fans of Arsenal expect from this pre-season tournament. Being so close to the Premier League season now it almost doesn’t feel like pre-season anymore, but these games definitely are friendlies and it gives us another chance to display what we have on offer in terms of options and players.
Unfortunately we won’t be showing off any new faces expcet from Yaya Sanogo and although all the fans will be annoyed with the fact we are yet to really bring in any additions to our squad, I’m sure many will still be excited to see what Sanogo has in his locker. This cup competition is usually a chance for Arsenal to show off its new faces; however the only team news coming out of the Emirates is those players that we have already seen at the Emirates from last season.
Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Wojciech Szczesny are all expected to return to the pitch after struggling through pre-season with injuries, although Cazorla was in fact on holiday. His Spanish companion Nacho Monreal won’t be featuring despite the extensive break because he is currently regaining his fitness after injury and is expected to be back to training on Monday, so he may feature for the last pre-season game against Manchester City.
As mentioned Sanogo is likely to play some part. Whether he will start today or not remains unclear but I’m expecting a very mixed team in terms of youth and experience. We will see the likes of Cazorla, Podolski and Koscielny, probably mixing with the likes of Miquel and hopefully Zelalem.
It is however unfortunate for Arsenal fans that the opposition is the team that welcomes all the new faces. Having sold Edison Cavani to PSG, Napoli have been able to completely restructure their team to a revolutionary standard. Bringing in Pepe Reina as well as 3 ex Real Madrid players including our biggest summer target Gonzalo Higuian, they are all likely to line up at the Emirates, which I expect to be an enthralling game. If I’m honest I expect Higuain to score against us and I’m sure the fans will certainly let Wenger know what they think of that but ultimately it should be a good day out.
I’m not expecting the protests at the tournament over the course of the two days and despite our frustration I don’t really expect any difference to other years. If you’re going to the game today, I hope it’s a cracker and that maybe we will finally see why Sanogo has been praised so much by Arsene Wenger.