The boys are back in town, and with just a week to go till the season’s opener against the Chavs we have a couple of important friendlies to play over the weekend. At 4.20pm today Arsenal face Benfica. In general, Portuguese teams like to sit back and play on the counter and they love it when teams come and attack them. But I have not seen much of Benfica lately and they may play a totally different style of football.
What is more interesting is who will start the game today as that will give us some indication as what Wenger sees as his best starting eleven for the season ahead.
This is the available squad (and the good news is that Jack will be back in training soon and Santi is not too far away either, and we have very few injuries):
GKs: Petr Cech, David Ospina, Emiliano Martinez
DFs: Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Cohen Bramall
MFs: Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock
FWs: Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck
I reckon we will line-up as follows (but your guess is as good as mine):
No doubt that at their return Mustafi and Alexis will squeeze into the first team, but they are not available this weekend. I can see Wenger start Chambers instead of Bellerin in defence and Hector moving into midfield (instead of Ox). There is also a chance we will see Elneny in the centre of defence today as Wenger sees him as an option there (and I, of course, agree).
Ozil, Welbeck or Iwobi, and Lacazette will be all movement, running and passing and Rambo will be the important link-up player, with Xhaka dictating midfield play from deeper in midfield. Big roles as well for Kola and Hector/Ox in supporting attack and keeping our defence tight on the wings.
No doubt we will see changes after 60 minutes or so and the youngsters will get a chance, especially in midfield.
Looking forward to this one.