Last week was all about celebrating Arsenal’s Emirates Cup triumph and one name that stood out from the tournament is Jack Wilshere. Although it was a genuinely team effort well rehearsed by Arsene Wenger and Pat Rice, the first player to feature in our England’s future stars series is living up to the billing. This 17-year-old incredible talent is the latest proof that the youth academy at the Emirates is in good hands. The amount of maturity the lad has shown at such a young age is going to give the Gunners fans a great sigh of relief looking into the future after a dismal summer.
The week following Arsenal’s Emirates Cup success saw the Gunners being pitted against Scottish giants Celtic in the Champions League play-off round. The draw took place in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday with first leg scheduled on August 18 at the Bhoys’ imposing Celtic Park with the return fixture on August 26 at the Emirates. Certainly a ‘Battle of Britain’ in store for the fans yet Arsenal’s would be confident that Celtic can be seen off, particularly after what Arsene’s boys did to Glasgow Rangers at the Emirates Cup decider. Although Tony Mowbray’s Glasgow giants would be mightily passionate for the Champions League humdinger, the second leg scheduled for the Emirates stadium might just turn the tide in Arsenal’s favour although at this early stage of the season it is too close to call.
It was a week that also saw Arsenal suffer their only pre-season defeat at the hands of a strong Valencia side at the Estadio Mestalla. In a strong indication of Arsenal’s formation and line-up for the opening Barclays Premier League match away to Everton, Wenger put out a strong 4-3-3 formation to face the La Liga side. It was a lively affair in Spain as both sides created chances yet the home side grew stronger as the match wore on and the visitors kept changing players after the first period. Having missed a penalty through David Villa, Valencia took the lead 15 minutes from time, courtesy of Michel who found the target through a crowded Arsenal defensive line with star striker Villa making amends for his missed spot-kick by finding the target from an acute angle. A defeat for Arsenal with immediate calls from certain quarters for the Arsenal manager to sign new players. As always, the Frenchman is keeping his cards very close to his chest but at least confirmed there would be no new faces before Arsenal’s opening game of the season.
Although talks are underway between Arsenal and Everton for the future of Philippe Senderos, Wenger still believes that even if the Swiss defender leaves for the Merseyside, the Gunners have enough back-up to build a genuine challenge to their Premier League rivals. The game against Valencia more or less confirmed Arsenal’s line-up against Everton and it could be like this,
27 Eboue- 10 Gallas – 5 Vermaelen – 22 Clichy
4 Fabregas – 17 Song – 2 Diaby
26 Bendtner – 11 van Persie – 23 Arshavin
New signing Thomas Vermaelen missed Saturday’s friendly against Valencia due to a slight hamstring injury but is expected to make a full recovery in time to start against Everton at Goodison Park. As far as new signings are concerned, although Arsene Wenger has not hinted about adding to his squad, reports suggest that in all probability the club would make a bid for Fulham’s towering defender Brede Hangeland in the coming days if Senderos is sold to Everton. As of now there is nothing to suggest that the north London side would replace Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure following their moves to Manchester City.