Arsenal’s Singapore tour provides plenty of sub-plots
Without reading too much into pre-season, has there been anything revealing about Unai Emery’s plans for the season?
It’s a season of new beginnings for Arsenal, as they seek to move out of the Arsene Wenger shadow that has rewarded and tormented them over two decades. And Unai Emery represents just that; a new challenge for himself, and a new start for disillusioned and beleaguered squad members.
There appears to be a new wave of optimism, one that doesn’t just derive from an exotic pre-season, but a trip to the far-off Singapore will do wonders for squad morale and bonding, at a time when the post-Wenger transition is still in the works.
Arsenal were not hit particularly badly by the World Cup. New signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira will be a miss, given the interest in seeing the Uruguayan integrate into the starting XI, whilst Granit Xhaka, David Ospina and Nacho Monreal were granted extended holidays.
Crucially though, only Monreal and Torreira are near-guaranteed starters, with Xhaka on the periphery. It means the majority of his preferred squad is with him at Singapore, which should provide clues towards his tactics for the coming season.
Whilst Emery’s 25-man party contains no real surprises therefore – especially when the World Cup has taken some key members away – it does bear some interesting sub-plots.
Competition for starting spots
Bernd Leno should expect to stake his claim for the starting spot, even as the newly muscled-up Petr Cech finds himself linked with an exit to Chelsea and Roma.