New York Red Bulls v Arsenal: How Gunners Will Line Up in Pre-Season Tour Match

Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIJuly 25, 2014

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks on ahead of the pre season friendly match between Borehamwood and Arsenal at Meadow Park on July 19, 2014 in Borehamwood, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Arsenal will play the only match of their American tour against the New York Red Bulls Saturday, and we'll get a chance to see more players than were available at the friendly against Boreham Wood.

All the Englishmen and Spaniards are now back from their vacations and have made the trip to New York City. The official squad includes Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, who were not available last week.

Interestingly, the team includes only one striker—Chuba Akpom—because, as Arsene Wenger told me and the rest of the assembled press yesterday, he hoped Thierry Henry would be able to switch sides mid-game and put on an Arsenal shirt one more time.

However, Mike Petke, the manager of the Red Bulls, confirmed to the press yesterday that FIFA regulations prevent Henry from doing so.

So Arsenal will have to make do with what they have, but the team is pretty stacked in every area except center back, where Isaac Hayden and Ignasi Miquel are the only two options. But it doesn't really matter: Wenger can have a good look at the pair and decide if either should be promoted to fourth-choice.

Let's look at how the manager might line his side up. Regardless of the initial alignment, he will have as many substitutions as he pleases so the team will be completely different at full-time.


The two center backs pick themselves, but who will start at left- and right-back is an open question.

Perhaps Wenger will give Hector Bellerin the honor of a start over Carl Jenkinson, and it is really anyone's guess whether Nacho Monreal or Kieran Gibbs will be preferred from the first whistle.

It is not too important, in truth, as they all will be afforded time to impress Wenger.

It will be more difficult, however, to give all the midfielders ample playing time.

Cazorla and Wilshere need time to regain their fitness and get back into match shape, while Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky all need to be brought up to their usual level before they each play their parts in the upcoming season.

Yet Arsenal's 20-man roster is packed with promising young players who could greatly benefit from the experience of playing against the Red Bulls.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger signs autographs for fans as he arrives ahead of the pre season friendly match between Borehamwood and Arsenal at Meadow Park on July 19, 2014 in Borehamwood, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfi
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Wenger told the press yesterday that Gedion Zelalem, the 17-year-old wunderkind who first turned many heads on Arsenal's tour of Asia last year, will have the opportunity to play in his adopted country.

And he should—a player as young as he with his talent tends to make enormous progress in short periods of time, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against much older, larger professionals. It's also a fantastic marketing opportunity for Arsenal, but that is another matter.

There is also Kris Olsson, who is beginning to attract a little attention after nicking a goal during the Boreham Wood friendly. At 19, he needs to start showing definitive signs of improvement if he is to ever earn promotion to the first team.

He will only be able to impress Wenger and his coaching staff if he is afforded game time with senior players against professional competition.

Though Olsson is a midfielder by trade, the absence of Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez from the American tour means that no one in the squad is really suited for the right wing. Wenger loves to play people out of position to hone their skills, so Olsson will earn himself bonus points if he makes an impact on the flank.

I'll be back after the match with a list of things Wenger learned from this game (the first Arsenal match I'll ever have attended). There will undoubtedly be a few notes about promising young players.

Until then, look out for the match at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 if you're in the United States.