Arsenal Back To Business Against Barnet: In-Depth Look At 22-Man Squad

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IJuly 16, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 18:  Conor Henderson of Arsenal tries to tackle Elliott Charles of Barnet during the pre-season friendly match between Barnet and Arsenall at Underhill on July 18, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

After what seems like an eternity, football clubs within Europe's big leagues are finally getting back to the real business of playing games.

The seemingly never-ending wait is usually broken by the major championships, but this year's World Cup was something of a letdown. For us Gunners it was dominated by the supposed transfer of Cesc Fabregas, and the hoping no-one (Robin van Persie in particular) would return injured.

Tomorrow sees Arsenal travel to Barnet for the annual pre-season start. Arsene Wenger has named a 22-man squad for the short trip. 

Absent are those who were on World Cup duty, while Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell are also notably not on the list. Brazilian Denilson is ruled out through injury.

Last season, Thomas Vermaelen made his debut in the Arsenal shirt against Barnet, and this season's fixture will see Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny make their debuts.

Here is a quick look at the players who will make the trip to Underhill tomorrow.

Manuel Almunia (Spain)

Still Arsenal's number one despite last season's disappointing displays.

Rumours abounded during the World Cup that various 'keepers were on their way in, but nothing has come to fruition just yet.

Almunia has been at the center of many Gooner's ire. He is dodgy on crosses, comes off his line at the wrong time and doesn't command the back line like he should.

Is more than capable of being back up 'keeper, but for a club with the aspirations of Arsenal, a more solid first choice is needed.

Lukasz Fabianski (Poland)

A young man who had a big reputation at the club, only to see it dwindle to nothing last season.

Dubbed "Flapianski" by the North London faithful, Fabianski had a couple of horror games last season, in particular that catastrophe away at Porto in the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger still thinks highly of him, although many seem to think that the Pole has lost it mentally and a season on loan at a lower league club would do him the world of good.

Andrey Arshavin (Russia)

In hindsight, it is to Arsenal's benefit that Russia failed to make the World Cup.

AA23 was besieged with injury last season, but injuries to other players meant he had to play through the pain. The long summer rest can only have done him the world of good.

Arshavin will be a key player for Arsenal next term. He will need to find the form that he showed directly after signing for the club.

While he may be outspoken at times, no-one is more determined to win than our Russian wizard. 

First up is Liverpool away, Arshavin loves Liverpool away. 

Nacer Barazite (Netherlands)

Since joining Arsenal in 2006, Barazite has been threatening to break into the first team squad, but always seems to be just one step short.

Equally adept up front as he is in midfield, Barazite scored a stunner in this fixture last term.

He spent the entire 2008-2009 season on loan with Derby before being frustrated with injury last term.  With so many strong names competing for a spot, this is a massive season for the undoubtedly talented Dutchman.

Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)

Finally arrived at The Emirates this season after a year long chase.

Chamakh impressed for Bordeaux in last season's Champions League as they made it to the semi-final stage, where he scored.

He is full of energy and will run the channels all day long. His finishing is a bit suspect but he should prove a good foil for van Persie.

Johan Djourou (Switzerland)

Spent the majority of last season out with injury, so this season is massive for Djourou.

With it looking more and more like William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell are gone, Arsenal are short at center back.

Left out of the Swiss World Cup squad, Djourou will need to prove himself if he wants to regain his spot.

An intelligent footballer, he will need to add more brawn to his game if Arsenal are not to miss the impending departures.

Craig Eastmond (England)

19-year-old Eastmond has been at Arsenal since 2002, and last season proved to be a massive one for the young Englishman.

Although his youth career was predominantly spent in the right-back position, Eastmond has become more of a defensive midfielder for the Arsenal first team. He made four first team appearances last season and didn't look too out of place.

Wenger thinks highly of Eastmond and he signed a long-term deal with the club in January.

Eduardo (Croatia)

Came back from his horrific leg break with aplomb by scoring a double against Cardiff in the FA Cup.

However, he was off form for most of last season and rarely made it off the bench towards the end of 2009/2010.

Many suggest that his injury still has some mental effects, and while that is true it can also be argued that the disgraceful hounding he got from all sides after the penalty awarded to him against Celtic have taken its toll.

Eduardo is a calm, cool finisher who can still be massive for Arsenal. He could be another that could benefit from having a workhorse like Chamakh beside him.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (England)

Only 19, JET has been at Arsenal since he was 7 where he has continually risen through the ranks.

Built like a tank, JET is predominately a winger come striker who has also played at the back and in midfield for Arsenal.

He was captain of the double winning 2008-2009 Youth team, where he scored in every round of the FA Youth Cup, before going on loan to Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers last season.

Another who has signed a long-term deal with the club, JET is expected to feature in the Carling Cup this term before going on another loan stint.

Emmanuel Frimpong (Ghana)

Born in Ghana, Frimpong moved to London in 2000 before joining the club as an 11-year-old. Although he has played for England at U-16 level, he has committed himself to his country of birth.

Like Emmanuel-Thomas, Frimpong is powerfully built, while he is also strong in possession. He has proven himself to be a key midfielder at various age levels.

It is perhaps a season too early for Frimpong to be even on the fringes of the first team squad, but he could well be a squad member for the Carling Cup.

Kieran Gibbs (England)

While right-back seems to be a continual problem for Arsenal, there is never a shortage of left-backs at the club. Kieran Gibbs is just one in the long line of top left-backs the club has had at its disposal.

Just 20-years-old, last season Gibbs came in for the injured Gael Clichy and looked like he had done enough to not only take the left-back spot off the Frenchman, but also stake a claim for a World Cup spot.

Life, being as cruel as it is, saw Gibbs break a metatarsal in his right-foot in the Champions League game against Standard Liége, and he missed the rest of the season.

Both Clichy and Gibbs are back and fit for this season, expect a duel for the starting spot at left-back.

Conor Henderson (Rep.Ireland)

Henderson is a stylish and creative midfielder who is held in the highest esteem by both club and country. Although he has played for both England and Ireland at youth level, he has committed his future to Ireland.

Henderson's development was halted in 2008/2009 when he suffered a terrible knee injury that ruled him out for months. 2009/2010 saw him make 17 appearances for the Youth squad, while he was called up by Wenger for the trip to Wigan in April.

Like Frimpong, it is still early days for Henderson.

Laurent Koscielny (France/Poland)

Arsenal's latest signing and one that Gunners hope will be another stroke of genius from Arsene Wenger.

Little is known of Koscielny, other than that he is 24 and has spent his career to date in the lower echelons of French football. 

Wenger has claimed that Koscielny's quick progression for Lorient last season, coupled with his passion, was the deciding factor in his signing.

He has yet to be capped at international level where he can play for either France or Poland.

Henri Lansbury (England)

Another midfielder who has come up through the ranks at Arsenal since he joined as a 9-year-old from Norwich.

Although he has made just one senior appearance for Arsenal, he has impressed while on loan at Scunthorpe and Watford.

Wenger kept tabs on Lansbury while he was on loan and indicated at the end of last season that Lansbury would feature for the first team in pre-season. True to his word, Wenger has included Lansbury for the trip to Underhill.

Ignasi Miguel (Spain)

Former Barcelona youth team player Miguel signed for Arsenal in 2008 from UD Cornella.

Despite playing in the sixth tier of Spanish football, Miguel's determination and displays same him get a call up to represent his country in an underage tournament. Receiving numerous offers, he pumped for Arsenal.

Strong in the air, the young defender was called up for two reserve appearances last term.

Samir Nasri (France)

Left out of the France World Cup squad by the bizarre Raymond Domenech, Nasri will surely be out to prove it was a massive mistake.

He has become a key part of the Arsenal squad since joining from Marseille, and has scored some important and often stunning goals along the way.

Will have to up his game away from home, but is a key cog in the Arsenal machine.

He has mainly been used out wide but looks like his future could be in the center of midfield.

Havard Nordveit (Norway)

Just 20-years-old, Nordveit has a long line of first team appearances at various clubs which belies his youth.

To date he has played as center back for Haugesund and Lillestrom in his homeland, Salamanca in Spain, and last season with Nurnberg in Germany.

Although he spent most of his time with Nurnberg as a defensive midfielder, it is expected that he will continue to develop in Arsenal's back line.

Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic)

A man who could now be claimed as one of the best in the world, were it not for a host of injuries.

Rosicky is a fantastic midfield man. He can link play, score from distance, pick a pass out of nowhere and get stuck in. Sadly, he is constantly hampered by injuries.

He played more games last season than one might have imagined and it looked to have taken its toll by season's end.

Although he can no longer be certain of a starting berth, Rosicky is a massively important player for the club.

Armand Traore (France)

Since signing from Monaco in 2006, Traore has developed both on and off the pitch year on year.

Equally at home playing at left-back or on the left-wing, Traore got his chances in the first-team last season after injuries to Clichy and Gibbs. Although he didn't do enough to displace either of the above for this term, Traore is keen to fight for his spot. His main advantage over his too rivals is his crossing ability.

Although its probably not to be condoned, Traore became a cult hero among Arsenal fans when he was stopped outside a turnstile at White Hart Lane with a knuckle duster in his jacket pocket.

Thomas Vermaelen (Belguim)

Many were hesitant when the Belgian signed for Arsenal last summer but he very quickly became a firm fan favourite.

He isn't the tallest, but has a massive leap which has made him key in the center of defence and from set pieces.

Although he is quiet, Vermaelen looks like a real leader for Arsenal. He has a massive drive and determination and isn't afraid to put his body on the line for the side.

Vermaelen is also a threat to the opposition with his long range efforts. Arsenal fans can only hope he is as good this season as he was in his first outing for the club.

Theo Walcott (England)

What to say about Theo Walcott that hasn't already been said?

Walcott is blessed with blistering speed that allows him to terrify defenders. Sadly, he rarely uses it to his advantage. Walcott often just puts his head down and runs as opposed to having an eye out to pick a pass.

There is a good player in Walcott, you don't score an international hat-trick against Croatia, or go on a run like he did against Liverpool if you are average, Wenger just needs to find it.

Fabio Capello's decision to leave him out of England's World Cup squad could well be the kick up the backside Walcott needs.

Jack Wilshere (England)

Jack Wilshere is said to be the new Liam Brady. Liam Brady thinks this an insult to Jack Wilshere. This is the esteem in which Wilshere is held at Arsenal.

He has been at the club all his life, and is seen as a future superstar.

Wilshere is blessed with an outstanding left foot, with which he has scored some spellbinding goals for the Arsenal youth sides.

He has already played for the senior squad and spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton. Bolton fans don't particularly like Arsenal fans (dare say the feeling is mutual) but they do love Jack Wilshere.

Owen Coyle wants him back on loan for next season, many Arsenal fans want to see Wilshere get more appearances in North London.

A young man with massive expectations on his shoulder, it'll be interesting to see how Arsenal hone it.

So there it is, the 22-man squad that will get Arsenal's pre-season up and running tomorrow.

Aaron Ramsey isn't fit to come back just yet, but reports from the training ground suggest he is back running again.

The absence of Sanchez Watt and Kyle Bartley have raised a few eyebrows, although if questioned Wenger would probably suggest he can't bring everyone.

However, he did bring the two new signings and it is those that Arsenal fans will be watching most carefully tomorrow.

This article was first posted on Arsenal Comment


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