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:
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.