Finally, after a summer full of anticipation, we finally get our first glimpse of an Unai Emery Arsenal team tomorrow.
This’ll be in our first pre-season game against Boreham Wood. A game that, although it is a friendly, should be of interest to all Arsenal fans.
Of course, Emery wont be able to field a full strength team with some players having featured at the World Cup. However, this in turn will make for a very interesting pre-season for many reasons.
Firstly, one thing that is bound to happen during pre-season is youngsters getting run-outs to see if they can impress in the first team. Of course not every youngster that appears during pre-season should be earmarked for greatness, however, those that do should be looked at with encouragement.
We saw this last season as after an impressive pre-season, the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock all when on to feature frequently in the first team during the 2017/18 season.
One player I’m especially interested in seeing play tomorrow and throughout pre-season is Emile Smith-Rowe.
One of the more high profile Arsenal youngsters, Smith-Rowe shone in both the under 18’s and under 23’s last season racking up 13 goals and four assists, but his game is much more than just stats. He’s a very good dribbler of the ball who is exciting to watch and is capable of producing very special moments in attack.
Having taken part in first team training over the last week or so it’s very likely that he will feature throughout pre-season and hopefully he impresses.
Players with something to prove
With Emery without many key first team players for the next month or so, this will be a very important period for some at the club.
Lucas Perez springs to mind at first. Under Wenger, it was clear the Spaniard wasn’t favoured as after just 19 games (nine starts) in his first season he was shipped out on loan back to Deportivo La Coruna where he scored nine goals in 2017/18.
Going into this season, its unlikely that he will shift either Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the starting side. However, this pre-season could be his chance to show Emery and his staff that he can be an important part of Arsenal’s season.
Another player who this will be a massive pre-season for is Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Joining us three years ago, Arsenal fans have been excited about the Frenchman for a while now. Unfortunately in that three years a few injury set backs have held him back and we haven’t seen as much of him as we would’ve liked to.
Coming back after a mediocre loan spell at Angers, this could be a great chance for him to kick-start his Arsenal career.
World Cup Absentees
Also, this should be great for players who weren’t at the World Cup but will be key members of the first team throughout the season. For example, the aforementioned strikers, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and others.
This gives them a chance to become familiar with the management and playing style of Emery very early on which will hopefully pay dividends when the Premier League begins.
Especially in the games against Manchester City and Chelsea as many of their stars may still be on holiday or just returning to training after their World Cup duties.
Either way this’ll be a very intriguing pre-season where we will get glimpses of the Arsenal we could see across the 2018/19 season, so get excited. It all starts tomorrow at Boreham Wood from 3pm!