Arsenal FC: Previewing the Gunners' Friendly Against FC Cologne

Matthew CelentanoFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JULY 13: Arsenal and Malaysia enter the field during the pre-season Asian Tour friendly match between Malaysia and Arsenal at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 13, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

You never know what to expect with preseason friendlies. Most fans like to think that their club will simply humiliate the team that it's facing, as it's usually some club from Asia or an obscure Eastern European country.

Usually, these fans are right (depending on which club they support), and they'll enjoy watching their team have a goal party, but there's always the occasional shock where a top club struggles against a club they should be bashing.

However, fans tend to overreact about preseason friendlies. They act as if the friendlies are supposed to be an omen for the upcoming season, like some kind of crystal ball that shows how well the club will do in their approaching campaign.

But really, friendlies mean close to nothing, hence the name friendlies. The managers usually field youngsters and reserve players, fiddling with the formation and seeing how players perform in different positions.

And it's exactly the same with Arsenal, if not more so than other clubs.

Tomorrow, Arsenal will play German side FC Cologne, a decent mid-table Bundesliga club who had a remarkable turnaround this season as they went from the relegation zone to 10th place. This match may not be as easy as the Gunners' 4-0 stroll past Malaysia XI, but Arsenal shouldn't find it too hard to grab a win against the German outfit.

We can expect to see Arsene Wenger play a younger side, with the likes of Jenkinson, Miyaichi and Frimpong all getting some playing time. Wenger should continue to try out players in different positions, fielding Walcott in his most preferred position as a striker, as well as Nasri in the center rather than on the left.

Vela has shone so far in the preseason, scoring in both of Arsenal's friendly's thus far, and he'll be sure to play tomorrow, as Wenger will continue to try and develop Vela into a first-team player.

But tomorrow's match isn't just a preseason friendly. It's Gervinho's debut for Arsenal, as Wenger has confirmed that the Ivorian international is part of the squad making the trip to Germany, meaning he'll surely see some playing time tomorrow.

So where will he play? In the middle, on the wing or up top as a striker? Tomorrow's friendly is more than anything a chance for Arsene Wenger to see how and where Gervinho fits in at Arsenal, so "The Professor" can set up the former Lille man for success in the upcoming season.

Overall, Arsenal should be able to ease through tomorrow's match, but it won't be a complete bust out. Hopefully, Gervinho will shine on his debut, possibly even grabbing a goal or two...

Final Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 FC Cologne