Afternoon all. There is just under a week to go until Arsenal are in pre-season action and Arsene Wenger has named his squad to travel to Singapore to take part in this year’s installment of the Asia Trophy.
It’s a strong travelling group, with expected absentees such as Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina not selected due to their summer exertions at the Copa America. Serge Gnabry is also left behind after playing for Germany at the Under 21 European Championships and both Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck will also stay in London due to injury concerns.
There is a place on the plane however, for a number of the club’s brightest prospects. Summer recruit Jeff Reine-Adelaide is joined by Chris Willock, Alex Iwobi, Gedion Zelalem, Dan Crowley and Chuba Akpom, giving the youngsters what is now an annual opportunity to force their way into the manager’s first-team thinking.
The one glaring omission from my perspective, is the Braziliian Wellington Silva. So where is Welly? Well, he’s either carrying a knock, has been judged better served by staying at home and working on his fitness, is about to be sold/loaned, or has simply misplaced his newly acquired Spanish passport.
It’s a real let-down, not least because for the last few years, I have been telling anyone who would listen just how highly I rate the former Fluminense man. “Just you wait and see” was the gist, and now after five separate loan spells – the last of which was a real breakthrough (31 appearances for Almeria in La Liga) – it seemed nailed on that the now 22-year-old would finally be seen in an Arsenal shirt. I’m not losing hope though, far from it. I stayed steadfast in my belief that Abou Diaby would eventually blossom to boss our midfield for over a decade, until his release last month, so Silva’s got years before I give up on him. Emirates Cup it is.
The squad in full:
Chuba Akpom, Mikel Arteta, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech, Calum Chambers, Francis Coquelin, Dan Crowley, Mathieu Debuchy, Mathieu Flamini, Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny, Emiliano Martinez, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Wojciech Szczesny, Theo Walcott, Chris Willock, Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem.
And in a wide-ranging chat with Chris Harris on Arsenal Player, the boss has been discussing the trip to Singapore, Reine-Adelaide’s attributes, the now departed Lukas Podolski and Mikel Arteta’s new contract. Go take a peak.
Elsewhere, Mathieu Debuchy, who was so unfortunate with injury in his debut season at the club, has been discussing the importance of pre-season, his excitement at a first visit to Singapore and the benefits of playing Premier League opposition at this stage of the summer.
He told Arsenal Player:
It was a hard year last year and I need to do some hard training to be fit for the first game. I’m so excited to go to Singapore and work hard with the team. I’ve never been before, it’s my first time. I need to have a good pre-season. It was a hard year last year and I need to do some hard training to be fit for the first game. It’s also important for us to play Premier League teams like Stoke City and Everton because in one month we will play in the Premier League and we need to be ready.
The 29 year old France international also touched on the signing of Petr Cech and the club’s title chances, saying:
Petr is a very good keeper with massive experience. He has a lot of quality and is a complete goalkeeper. I think [Arsenal can challenge for the Premier League] and I hope so too. We have all the chance to win the Premier League.
And speaking of Cech, the former Chelsea shot-stopper says he can’t wait to get his first game for the club under his belt and reveals how he’s been blown away by the welcome he’s received from Arsenal fans all over the world.
He told Arsenal Player:
The first game is very important for me so [I want to] get that under my belt as soon as possible. To get that feeling of how it is to be part of the team [is important] and it’s my first chance to get to know everybody. I have had such a fantastic welcome from every Arsenal fan all over the world. I don’t know what to expect but I’m really looking forward to it.
A little abrupt, but that’s all for today folks. I’ll be back on Friday with news of Silva’s imminent move to Stevenage.