The new Premier League season kicks off in just two weeks, and Arsenal only have three matches remaining of the pre-season. One of those is of course the Community Shield against Manchester City, which while just a glorified friendly, does have a degree of importance. The games on Saturday and Sunday, against Benfica and Monaco, are the last two chances Wenger has to experiment with different XIs and partnerships. It will also be the first time that Arsenal's new signings, Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers and Mahtieu Debuchy, play in a match with their teammates. Without ado, here are some things to watch for:
Arsenal's new £30m signing is the obvious attraction. In the absence of Theo Walcott, he'll likely start on the right hand side of Arsenal's front three, with the freedom to stretch play and get in behind, or try and create. He's a much more rounded player than Walcott: Walcott's effectiveness comes in the penalty box and off the ball, whereas Alexis is more effective throughout the final third and midfield. With that in mind, it'll be interesting to see how Alexis combines with the other attacking players in Arsenal's lineup. Obviously there'll be no Mesut Özil, but Santi Cazorla has the ability to find Alexis with through balls, and Aaron Ramsey is the obvious candidate for making runs if Alexis drops deep. The other thing to watch for is how Olivier Giroud and Sánchez combine: Giroud has been at his best at Arsenal when he's had Theo Walcott on the pitch.
There's been an obvious need for Arsenal to make a new signing in midfield, either to upgrade on Mikel Arteta or adequately backup Aaron Ramsey. That signing has not happened yet, and talk of Jack Wilshere playing a deeper role has returned. Wilshere last showed the discipline needed to play such a role in 2011, but it might be his best: his play in the final third, unless it's spontaneous, is sometimes lacking and actually slows down Arsenal, especially when he gets into the penalty area. If he's to cut out the charges forward, and use his dribbling and passing to circulate the ball, he might return to the player that was so brilliant in the 2010-11 season. It won't come without practise, though, and thus far, Wilshere hasn't played in such a role.
Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers
Calum Chambers will also make his debut, and given the paucity of centre back options, it'll probably be in that position. It'll be interesting to see how he does there, and if he plays alongside Laurent Koscielny it may require Koscielny to alter his game, as the more senior defender. Koscielny has done that before when Thomas Vermaelen has played alongside him, sometimes to good effect and sometimes with disastrous results. Thus, we'll have to see how Koscielny does: is he more proactive, or does he leave the aggressive defensive play to Chambers, a converted midfield and right back, who's more likely to want to go and nick the ball, with Koscielny sweeping behind. It'll be similar if he plays with Isaac Hayden, who did well last week against Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls. Benfica, though, last season's runners up in the Europa League, will be a different proposition.