Arsenal FC: Previewing the Gunners' Emirates Cup Match Against Boca Juniors

Matthew Celentano@@Gunner_NYCFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  An aerial view of The Emirates Stadium home of Arsenal Football Club on July 26, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Arsenal will kick off their Emirates Cup campaign with a match against Argentinian outfit Boca Juniors in a clash that should be entertaining.

Of all the four world class clubs featuring in this year's Emirates Cup, Boca Juniors are certainly the least familiar to fans of world football. But never mind that, Boca one of South America's largest clubs, with an extensive history rich in tradition and success.

First off, Boca are the joint record holder with Milan for the most international titles won, at a whopping 18 trophies. However, their last season in Argentina's Primera Division was unsatisfactory with a seventh placed finish, and the squad will be hungry to push for another title this season.

Boca Juniors' style of play will be new to England, and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger described that Boca "will cycle the ball at a slow pace and suddenly try to kill you." This should be a good test of stamina for the Arsenal squad, especially for their defense which looked shaky this past season.

In terms of what players Wenger will start tomorrow, the Frenchman is likely to continue to see how new signing Gervinho performs in north London, and proving he does start him it will be the Ivorian's home debut tomorrow.

On Gervinho's first match, away in Germany, the former Lille man hit the net twice in the space of eight minutes, showing his potential as a lethal attacking force for the Gunners this season.

Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas will not be participating in the Emirates Cup, further fueling the flames of the transfer saga about the Spaniard's move back to Barcelona. But out of annoyance at this transfer saga that never seems to end, I won't comment any further on Cesc's move to the Nou Camp.

Fabregas' absence in the central midfield means that Wenger is likely to play Ramsey, Wilshere, Nasri and Song but probably only two or three at a time, making wholesale changes at half time like he's done in Arsenal's previous friendly matches.

Theo Walcott's ankle injury could see him sidelined for the Emirates Cup, but Wenger has recently stated that it's not as bad as he thought and could try him as a winger or striker this weekend.

Kieran Gibbs is the player that's seen the most playing time this preseason, possibly hinting that Wenger is planning on using him as the club's main left-back this season.

The idea of Gibbs playing an entire Premier League season worries Arsenal fans (including myself), but he continues to improve slightly with every match.

New signing Carl Jenkinson is likely to see some playing time as well, and besides his bizarre own goal in Germany last week, he's actually been playing surprisingly well, making crucial tackles and contributing in the attack as well.

Thomas Vermaelen has reminded us how strong of a defender he is this preseason, making some brilliant challenges as well as showing he can be a big help to Arsenal's defending on set pieces. He's likely to start tomorrow, along with Johan Djourou or Laurent Koscielny.

Overall, tomorrow's match against Boca Juniors should be a good challenge for the Gunners, but nothing to lose sleep over. Arsenal will be looking to extend their good run of form this preseason, gaining the three points they need for their pursuit of the Emirates Cup trophy.

Final Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Boca Juniors