Arsenal will welcome three of Europe’s top sides to the Emirates Cup this weekend, with Lyon being their opening fixture of the tournament.
- 14.00 – Wolfsburg v Villarreal (Live on BT Sport)
- 16.20 – Arsenal v Lyon (Live on BT Sport)
The Gunners will kick off their attempts of winning the trophy for a fourth time this Saturday, with a tricky fixture against the Ligue 1 runners-up.
Lyon managed to secure automatic Champions League qualification towards the end of the 2014/15 campaign, with thanks to the league’s top goalscorer, Alexandre Lacazette.
The 24-year-old has had a huge influence in France’s top division, and Gunners fans will be relishing the opportunity of seeing one of their top transfer targets in action.
However, this Arsenal side will be doing their very best to put a stop to the strikers free run of form, as they look to build on an already impressive pre-season.
Arsene Wenger has revealed all of the latest team news ahead of this weekends fixtures, and there are some big names missing from his squad.
Arsenal will be without English international, Danny Welbeck, who is continuing his rehabilitation on a knee injury he picked up towards the end of last season.
The striker is said to be suffering some serious bruising and is yet to return with the rest of the squad in full training. He should be ready for Arsenal’s opening game against West Ham.
The most interesting news from Wenger’s press conference was that Wojciech Szczesny “might not be available” which all but suggests his loan switch to Roma is nearing completion.
Copa America stars, David Ospina and Alexis Sanchez, are still enjoying their holiday period after returning from the tournament in late June.
Wenger confirmed that Sanchez will be back in action at London Colney on August 3rd, a day after our Community Shield fixture against Chelsea.
The only squad member nursing a serious injury is Thomas Rosicky, who will remain on the sidelines until the opening weeks of the Premier League after suffering a blow to the knee.
Joining the absentee list late on is Mathieu Flamini, who has picked up a “slight knock” and Wenger will decide on the day as to whether the midfielder gets any game time.
However, the French veteran is on the verge of completing a move to Galatassary in the coming days, which could be enough reason for missing the weekends action.
Likely Line Up (4-2-3-1)
We can expect to see Emiliano Martinez start in goal for the Gunners on Saturday afternoon, with Arsene Wenger surprisingly having limited options between the sticks. Petr Cech will most likely be utilised on the Sunday as Gunners fans anticipate the home debut of their new signing. David Ospina remains on holiday and Wojciech Szczesny could miss out on the whole weekend as he wraps up his contract.
Wenger will want to kick things off in a positive manor this weekend, and a strong defensive line will help out the young Martinez in goal. Wenger will probably want to play Koscielny alongside Mertesacker at some point this weekend, probably on Sunday so I’d expect Chambers and Gabriel to start in central defence, with Debuchy and Gibbs at full back.
There is doubt over the availability of Mathieu Flamini. Francis Coquelin will be awarded a return to his regular position. Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere could start alongside. I think Ramsey will probably get the nod, and he’ll need to impress to earn a central role against Chelsea.
With so many options for our front three it’s hard to predict exactly what Wenger will go with. However, there will be plenty of youth stars on offer for the 60,000 spectators on Saturday afternoon. Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are all fighting for the right hand side of the midfield, providing some much-needed competition out on the flanks. Jack Wilshere recently showed us what he can do whilst playing in the advanced central position, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Englishman line up here again. With no Alexis or Welbeck however, Wishere could move out to the left-wing to allow Cazorla or Ozil to drop into the central role.
Chuba Akpom score a hat-trick whilst playing in Singapore earlier in pre-season, and Wenger is ready to give him another shot. The home fans are yet to see him really perform on the big stage, and the Emirates Cup is exactly where players can grow in confidence. We saw Yaya Sanogo in the form of his life in this competition last year, so here’s hoping Akpom can follow in those footsteps.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Martinez; Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs; Coquelin, Ramsey; Chamberlain, Wilshere, Iwobi, Akpom