Pre Season for many teams is a very unique experience and also a very steep learning curve. This pre-season was very much that for Arsenal, a mixture of youth and experience whilst maintaining our ever growing class and entertaining style of play. The Arsenal boys, without Alexis Sanchez, set off to Singapore in search of winning the Barclays Asia Trophy, competing against Stoke, Everton and the Singapore XI. Our first encounter, which was the Barclays Asia Trophy Semi – Final was against the unfamiliar Singapore XI. This was a wonderful opportunity for Arsenal’s youngsters to try and challenge some of the more experienced players for their place in the team for the upcoming season. The game was won by Arsenal, beating Singapore XI 4-0. The starting line-up was far it’s strongest. However they were all able to showcase their potential even if the opposition was not Premier League standard. The starting line – up that day was:
(Upper from Left to Right: Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi, Emiliano Martinez, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista and Nacho Monreal)
(Lower from Left to Right: Oxlade – Chamberlain, Mathieu Debuchy, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini)
Although this team seems weak compared to the one that we played vs Everton, I think that this team had the potential to win the Barclays Asia Trophy without the need for many of our bigger players. Although, we were playing a weakened team in the form of the Singapore XI, we too were far from our strongest. However, I was particularly impressed by youngsters Chuba Akpom and Alex Iwobi. Both players showed that they are able to play for our first team one day, should they continue to improve and reach their expected potential. Alex Iwobi showed everyone why he can be the next big thing with his mazy runs and skilful play whilst also managing to set up Akpom for one of his goals. Akpom on the other hand showcased finishing of a young Henry scoring a hat-trick with ease, which of course is very impressive. However, we would end up facing sterner test against Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy Final, which would prove an early indicator as to whether the team was ready or not.
The win over Everton was pretty easy with Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil all scoring and Petr Cech making his debut but not having much to do.
The team was very similar to our strongest team with a few youngsters in there such as Chambers and Bellerin.
The club captain, Mikel Arteta, lifted the trophy and the team have started to understand the winning mentality now even if it was only pre – season.
Now to the Emirates on Saturday and Sunday for the Emirates Cup and hopefully another piece of silverware