After Arsenal’s success in the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup in Southampton just over two weeks ago, Arsene Wengers’ men jetted off to Asia for a three game tour at the end of July. Their only win in the Far East came at the expense of Malaysia XI in the National Stadium Bukit Jail; a 2-1 victory thanks to two late goals from Thomas Eisfeld and Chuks Aneke.
Three days later they played Premier League Champions Manchester City. The Gunners fell behind to two quickfire City goals in the last five minutes before half time, courtesy of Pablo Zabeleta and Yaya Toure in the Bejing National Staduim.
The final game of the tour saw Arsenal face Hong Kong Champions Kitchee, where they fought hard to salvage a 2-2 draw. After falling behind early on, another late Eisfeld goal put the Gunners back on Level terms.
Less than a week before their opening Barclays Premier League game against Sunderland at the Emirates on August 18, Arsenal round off their pre-season with a game against German side FC Cologne at the Rhein Energie Stadium; the club from which Arsenal recently signed forward Lukas Podolski.
Arsenal have had their fair amount of transfer targets this transfer window, signing Oliver Giroud from Montpellier and Malaga winger Santi Cazorla in addition to Podolski. Wenger is also looking to tie up a loan deal for Real Madrid central midfielder Nuri Sahin, whilst club legend Steve Bould has been promoted to the First Team coach to try and improve the club’s defensive errors of late.
Arsenal talisman Robin Van Persie is close to a move away from the Emirates. The Dutch forward netted 37 goals in 48 games last season for the Gunners, and looks to be heading to either of the two Manchester clubs or Serie A champions Juventus, although interest seems to have cooled of late.
Arsenal begin the new campaign with an easier run of games than the start to last season in which they faced Newcastle, Udinese (twice), Liverpool and Manchester United in the first five games of the season. The start to this season, on paper at least, looks much more favourable, mainly due to not having to play a Champions League Qualifier.
The Gunners start off at home to Sunderland, then travel to Stoke and Liverpool before entertaining Southampton at Emirates Stadium.
My Predicted Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Song, Arteta; Cazorla, Wilshere, Podolski; Giroud.
Substitutes: Fabianski, Mertesacker, Santos, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Predicted Finish: 4th