Pre-season has officially arrived. The brand new adidas kit launched and the team has set off for America—well almost the entire team. Arsenal kick off their four match US tour with a game next Tuesday night (7/16) against another Stan Kroenke club, the Colorado Rapids. After the match in Denver, Arsenal will play Bayern Munich in L.A., Fiorentina in Charlotte and finally Real Madrid in Washington D.C.
The club announced the
30 29-man traveling squad as the Gunners flew out on Thursday.
Five thoughts on the team Arsenal will have available for Unai Emery this summer.
1 - Laurent Koscielny Sits Out
As we learned yesterday, club-captain Koscielny has skipped the departure for the US tour. Reports vary as to exactly when he stated that he wanted to leave, if any prior agreement had been verbally made with the club to allow him to leave this summer, or if there are any offers that present an accurate value for the French defender.
While I understand if Koscielny feels like he has to make this move in order to switch clubs this summer, it’s disappointing. He is a captain and this tour was possible the only chance a large group of Arsenal fans had to see him play in person. Let’s hope this gets resolved soon, as the last thing Arsenal needs right now is more contract drama.
2 - New Names
The usually suspects and the becoming familiar academy names dominate the tour roster as you’d expect. However, there are two names which will probably be new to most Arsenal fans - Robbie Burton and James Olayinka.
Burton is a 19-year-old Welsh center midfielder who has played in the attacking and holding roles for the Arsenal U23s. Olayinka is right-sided player who lined up at right back, right midfielder, right winger and center midfielder last season with the U23s. Last season he had the game-wining assist to Tyreece John-Jules over the Tottenham U23s.
3 - The Youth Movement
18 members of the 29 traveling to America are 25-years-old or younger. While it’s typical for these summer tours to include a younger contingent from the academy ranks, it is especially important for Arsenal right now. As the club continue to see reduced revenue from missing out on the Champions League and an owner who doesn’t want to invest additional funds, Arsenal will have to heavily lean on the academy to produce future starters.
4 - Who’s Missing?
Besides Koscielny, a few other notable names are missing. Alex Iwobi, Mohamed Elneny, Lucas Torreira, and Mattéo Guendouzi are the four additional senior players missing for various reasons. Iwobi is still competing with Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations. They will take on Algeria in the quarterfinals this Sunday.
Elneny’s Egypt was knocked out of AFCON at the Round of 16, but reports indicate Emery is ready to let the midfielder leave the club this summer. For youth products Krystian Bielik & Xavier Amaechi the exclusion by Emery puts their futures in doubt for the upcoming year. It will be interesting to see if Bielik is brought in if Koscielny continues to hold out.
5 - Which players need the best showing?
The summer tour is one of the best opportunities for academy players or those recently promoted to the first team to show the manager their value for upcoming season. Can defenders Konstantinos Mavropanos, Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers earn a senior team spot for 2019/20 or will they be placed on the loan/sell shelf? How will Reiss Nelson kick off on returning from the Bundesliga, can he earn a starting XI role by August? Can Emiliano Martinez’s performances put a halt on all the rumors of Arsenal signing a new keeper to back up Bernd Leno?