The Singapore Select XI v Arsenal | Preview and Background Info


Bergkampesquers, we are very lucky to have a resident of Singapore commenting regularly on our blog who has now written a fine pre-view for our very first game of the season, including a rare insight into how football lives in Singapore..


An overview into Singapore local football scene:

Singapore has its own professional league: the S-League. Formed in 1996, the league has seven local teams and three foreign teams, with each team playing 27 matches in total.

Since 2011, a professional under-23 team named Lions XII joined the Malaysian Super League, after they left the Malaysian cup in 1994.The standard of the teams is similar to the English Championship, each with about 5 foreign players. For Singapore, football is the number 1 sport: it is the most watched and most played sport here.

However, S-League has its own ups and downs. Lately, attendance to a local league games averages about 100 to 200 spectators per game. For Lions XII games, average attendance goes up to 5000.

This makes such a poor case for local football scene; and it is because we prefer to watch Man***, Liv, Arsenal, Chelsea and other EPL teams, as they play better football and it’s more entertaining.

Our matches are always played around 7.30pm, due to the high humidity and temperature (27 degrees C to 32 degrees C, 80% humidity) throughout the whole year. Foreign teams mostly struggle in this heat and humidity, but the EPL players (Gunners, Everton and Stoke) should be able to adapt to this heat as the weather in the UK is not too dissimilar.

For me, watching Arsenal games has been all on TV. Most of us cannot afford the time or money to fly over (but some of us did, like a local supporters’ group went to North London to catch the FA Cup final). So to watch the game live in a stadium will be fascinating. I somehow cannot put it in words how excited I am waiting for them and seeing them all flesh and muscles.


Taking this post as a preview to the game in Singapore on Wednesday evening Singapore time, the below is a recap of the Arsenal squad that travelled to Singapore on Sunday.

Arsenal squad (subject to change):

Chuba Akpom (Tuesday) Mikel Arteta Hector Bellerin (Tuesday) Santi Cazorla Petr Cech Calum Chambers (Tuesday) Francis Coquelin (Tuesday) Dan Crowley (Tuesday) Mathieu Debuchy Mathieu Flamini (Tuesday) Gabriel (Tuesday) Kieran Gibbs Olivier Giroud Alex Iwobi Laurent Koscielny Emiliano Martinez Per Mertesacker (Tuesday) Nacho Monreal (Tuesday) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Tuesday) Mesut Ozil Aaron Ramsey Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Tuesday) Wojciech Szczesny Theo Walcott Chris Willock Jack Wilshere (Tuesday) Gedion Zelalem (Tuesday)

The players indicated with ‘Tuesday’ in brackets are most likely to start the match according to Le Prof.

This is the preferred starting line-up, filled with mostly young players:

Formation: 4-5-1

GK: Martinez DEF: Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal MID: Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Zelalem, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ox-Chambo ST: Chuba Akpom

It might end like this:

GK: Cech DEF: Debuchy, Mertesacker, Kos, Gibbs MID: Theo, Cazorla, Flamini / Arteta, Mesut, Rambo ST: Giroud

This line-up will have a very good mix of first team players, and the players have enough pace to attack a team that parks the bus (think Chelsea, but with shorter players). The Singapore Select XI team will be playing route 1 football (our local teams are good at defending and pumping the ball up to the striker if they see spaces), so I foresee a game that will be one-sided, similar to Japan vs Singapore where the Japan team simply couldn’t find their scoring boots.

I, however, am confident that this will be a winning game for the Gunners, but whether it will be a high scoring match will depend on how many first team players Le Prof throws at the end of the game.

Your turn guys.


22 thoughts on “The Singapore Select XI v Arsenal | Preview and Background Info

  • Many thanks, JK. Very insightful and it is just great you will see our FA Cup heroes in the flesh in your home country. Despite the heat and humidity, I reckon it will be a very good game, as all will be keen to kick a ball properly. You could be close with your initial line-up, but for a friendly it does not really matter. I like the thought of us having to fell a Singapore wall and having to fight to get a few goals. I will not be able to watch it but look forward to your views and experiences. Cheers buddy. 🙂

  • Thanks JK always useful to get a local opinion. Hope you really enjoy the game and the local side put on a good show

  • Cheers JK…The background info is very interesting…and I can sense your excitement…No US TV for this one or otherwise I’d probably be up for the early kickoff… Thanks Again!

  • Hi TA,

    Well edited and thanks for your guidance. This was done before J R-A couldn’t make the trip and Toral replaced him.

    For me, Toral has a chance of making the starting lineup, thereby merely putting his name in, rather than shuffling the whole lineup around.

    Having watched him on a few highlights, I reckon he is the Wilshere equivalent, but his skills are also good for the wing.

    And Retsub too, we have a few Arsenal supporters in the local lineup, so be sure that this will be an entertaining match.


  • Nice one JK, there’s nothing like a good preview post to get the excitement levels climbing, great job.
    The Singapore football scene as you have described it has given me a brain wave to discuss but that’s going to have to wait until the morning when my brain is fully in gear.
    I think you could actually be pretty close on the line up as well (the first one) and that would be no mean feat with so many options, again great job bud.
    Night mofos

  • Wow guys, I am touched by the well wishes.

    I could not sleep yesterday due to either the pudding i ate or the enthusiasm that today is the day. The very day that my history chapter adds a new page.

    Although I am quite tired and on my way to work, I will drink as much tea and coffee as possible to keep me awake for the whole match and get a good review of the game.

    So bye for now,

  • Cheers NijSG – Excellent background stuff. It may be a ‘friendly’, but it is great to have a match to talk about …. AND a preview to discuss.

    You were bold to try and predict the starting line up. Nice try.
    Like the guys have said, you first one is a nice mix of youth and seniors and has a good chance to being close to AW’s thinking.
    Whereas the second is filled out with senior fringe player, who I think will only get bit parts out there.

    Like TA said, this is about getting the first team squad fit first and foremost. Secondly, is the option of seeing how the youth players have progressed. To that extent I don’t think any player will get much above 45 minutes play, with a group of subs on at half-time, and the rest as players wilt under the conditions.
    So whoever starts they will push hard and fast for as long as they can. I watched a bit of the 45 minute games played for the Audi Cup, and even there they used subs. So patterns of play, and in particular formations, will be barely relate in terms of the future. The intention will be to see who needs to up their fitness levels, and who is really putting the effort in.
    So tweaking your first 11, I think it will be our strongest back four: Cech, Bellerin, Mertersacker, Koscielny, Monreal.
    I favour Bells over Debuchy for his pace to get back, and that may also be the case for Gibbs?
    All change second half, with probably Per the only one consistent until late on.
    Midfield is so so tricky, but the players he will want to test from the senior players are Arteta and Ramsey. Coquelin will be more for the Stoke and Everton games, so a short second half stint here.
    However, as Jorge Bird has reminded me in his blog that it was two years ago that Zelalam excited us with some superb passing, in his cameo appearance, that he may well join that pair as the ‘Cazorla’ role of creative mid, so spitting between 4-3-3 and 4-2-1-2-1/4-2-1-3.
    I fully expect Wilshere will be given his ‘new role’ in the hole, i.e. No 10, Along with AOC in his ‘new role’ out on the left in the Alexis position. But whether Theo is on the right or up front is harder to decide. My guess is Giroud will be the front man at the start?
    Acker’s and Iwobi will be given a second half blast, with an assortment of second strings and other youth players like Crowley and Willock.
    Here is my line up, with subs in brackets:
    Bells(Deb)— Per———-Kos (GP5)–Nacho(KG)
    ————Arteta —————-Ramsey—————-
    (———————(Le Coq- for both)——————)
    *CC for Mertersacker if he needs it late on?

    Probably a 4 out of 11 ha ha, but I still expect them to try and get a good lead by half time. No pressure on the subs then? Of course, any player not up to par may come off early, or if we get overrun, then the likes of Cazorla could well appear. AW will know more about them in training to know if any will need to be in all three matches, I am assuming that all are not far off, and have no niggles.

    That should excite Steve and others to tweak their fancies. I am just favouring getting our defence super fit, and pick the best of the rest.
    Cheers NijSG.
    p.s. Don’t fall asleep during the match!

  • nice write up JK, good insight to Singapore football.

    Maybe asking the obvious, but what English team is the most favoured in Singapore?

  • Wow Gerry,

    Monsieur mentioned that he will start with those who came back on Monday, thus I had that line up. Well its much to see.

    We might see the defense like what you mentioned, or start off with what I mentioned, based on the Monday back to training starts the game idea.

    And yes I will try to get some sleep before the match starts.


  • 17HT……. try NBC Extra time. ??????? I think they are covering the match.

  • Hi VCC, Manu** and Liv are the top 2 in terms of supporters, and the gunners are a close third.

    We Singaporeans are a passionate bunch of football mad lads, so we wouldn’t change our support anyhow unless its those who are plastic supporters.


  • Hi VCC, Manu** and Liv are the top 2 in terms of supporters, and the gunners are a close third.

    We Singaporeans are a passionate bunch of football mad lads, so we wouldn’t change our support anyhow unless its those who are plastic supporters.

    And yes 17ht NBC extra time is showing, but its on at 8.30am ET, thus it might be difficult if you are working.


  • Wow totally outclassed. Gunners win by 4-0. Will do the review tomorrow. I am totally exhausted.

    Gd night, JK

  • an Akpom hat trick and one from Jacky boy, not bad at all 🙂
    They looked pretty knackered after a while in that heat though lol
    The only guy i was expecting a bit more from was OX, i thought he had quite a muted game but hey its the first game of pre season so not too much to worry about tbh.
    Very enjoyable bit of footy in the middle of summer, made even better by some great football being played by the Singapore Select as well, i thought they played some excellent stuff and the 90 mins flew by, especially in the second half.
    Can’t wait to hear JK’s thoughts 🙂

  • haha looks like his thoughts came in while i was writing my comment, glad you enjoyed it buddy, go get some well earned sleep 🙂

  • Ha ha was right, I got my 4 correct. I nearly got as many subs right.

    Well done Chuba, get yourself on the score sheet against Everton and bye bye loan stuff.
    I thought Iwobi worked hard, whilst Ox made a few good runs it did look like he could with a bit more game time to sharpen him up? Gabriel did what little he had to do really well.

    Best moment? The Bell’s cross for the Chuba hat-trick.

  • Its hard to disagree with that Gerry, for some reason Debuchy just wasn’t doing it for me down that right side but when Bells came on i just knew he would get decent a cross in sooner or later and it thats all it takes for greedy Akkers 🙂

  • I have to say though after constantly going on about pace, three up top how both those two factors can devastate teams on the counter that the break away goal was pretty awesome from my point of view 🙂
    OX driving through midfield, forward and at pace, then to Iwobi who didn’t break the forward momentum, then crossed to Wilshere after a dummy from Akpom who then almost beat his man with a bit of skill but instead ends up setting up beautifully for Akpom to score.
    It was over in a flash, from back to front in a blink of an eye and when it came to the danger area you had two strikers and the attacking midfielder who had all kept pace and were in the box almost outnumbering the defense who hadn’t been able to get back yet, not to mention OX coming in behind – loved it, like the good old days or the current days at Barca.

    Now if that had been Giroud, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil i am not sure it would have been that forward thinking or fast paced, i’m not saying they wouldn’t have got there in the end but maybe with an extra 50 passes and having to beat a regrouped defense once those 50 passes had given them time to get back 🙂

  • Hey guys… I tried to find the match but was thwarted at every turn… My Telly, I thought, used NBCsnExtra to give the 3 o’clock PL matches but those channels were blank…Trying to stream via that service also didn’t work… Most likely I just didn’t want it bad enough, lacked the passion, etc. 😀

    I did follow some narrative reports however,…

    Hey steve… I’m attempting to absorb your comments, but must use the extra large grains of salt, given your tendency towards hyperbole.. 😀 That said, the description (above) of the goal on the counter is enjoyable… (Let’s remember the level of the competition, of course…Also, I remember ALL those fellas you mention as being parts of goals on the break…) Also, didn’t Dubuchy win a pen? NGE (not.good.enough.) compared to young Bells, maybe?… Both getting into the box and making decisive contributions seems like they’re up for fighting for their spot…and that’s probably a good thing…

    Anyhow, we shouldn’t read too much into pre-season stuff–or so they say… 😀

    Still, re: the discussion from the previous thread…I’m gonna tend to believe AW (rather than the NewSnow headlines…) that Ozil isn’t going anywhere. Additionally I’ve got to disagree (sorry…) with the whole analysis that he and Jack cannot play together…In fact, the very best I can remember Jack playing was right after we bought Ozil (Autumn 2013) and he seemed to be keeping a keen eye out for Messy’s movements with both filling spaces vacated by the other. To me (and I know I’m not “all that” when it comes to “knowing my football…”) they were working together very keenly (along with the likes of Rambo, Santi and Giroud) to keep the pitch spaced and a lot of glory resulted… That match vs Norwich…with all those great goals (including Jack’s goal of the season) was probably the best even if it wasn’t against the strongest of opponents… Overall, count me with TA that our width will be coming from the FBs and that our attack will have to work diligently to fill spaces out wide, create overloads in those areas and avoid getting too static (Alexis, I’m talking to you…) in the central scoring positions…Does that mean we “need” “traditional” wingers? No, no it doesn’t…

    Just my opinion, of course… but maybe some good fodder for a post when I’ve got a bit more time…

    In the meantime, I’m off (busier day than usual incl. my wedding anniversary…) but looking forward to JKs match report and more comments from folks who watched…

    Thanks in advance…

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