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MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal: Key Players, Live Stream and TV Info

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2016

Arsenal team applause before the football match Lens Vs Arsenal on July 22 2016, at the Felix Bollaert stadium in Lens. / AFP / DENIS CHARLET        (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)
DENIS CHARLET/Getty Images

Arsenal’s preparation for the 2016-17 season will continue at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California on Friday against the best Major League Soccer can offer.

The Gunners take a strong squad to the States for their second pre-season game, following on from the 1-1 draw with Lens. It’s a group that includes new signing Granit Xhaka and a selection of stars that will be desperate to build on last year’s second-place finish in the Premier League.

It’s another chance for the Arsenal supporters from the United States to catch a glimpse of some of their heroes, with this their second visit to the country in three years. Here are the key viewing details for the clash, some players to watch and what to expect from the match.

    

Date: Thursday, July 28

Time: 5 p.m. (Local), 8 p.m. (ET), 1 a.m. (BST)

Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), Watch ESPN (US)

TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), ESPN (US)

     

Arsenal Set for Pre-Season Test

One of the main themes of pre-season is supporters getting a taster of some new faces in their club colours. For Arsenal, Xhaka is the man who’ll be watched keenly, as he gets set to make his bow for the Gunners.

Xhaka is set to make his Arsenal debut.
Xhaka is set to make his Arsenal debut.Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The Switzerland international has been extremely impressive in recent seasons, excelling at Borussia Monchengladbach before moving on this summer. Xhaka also turned in some eye-catching performances at the 2016 UEFA European Championship, whetting the appetite of those who frequent the Emirates Stadium.

He’s the man many expect to add some vital steel to Arsenal’s central midfield. However, as Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe noted, there’s plenty of competition for places:

Sam Tighe @stighefootball

So, how will Arsenal line up in midfield now Xhaka is in? Who partners him? Does Ramsey get shifted to the right? #AFC

One player who will be desperate to perform ahead of the new campaign is Jack Wilshere. The England man missed the majority of the previous term with injury, and while he was taken to the summer's major tournament by former Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson, he was unable to show his best form.

Getting some minutes under his belt, building fitness and rekindling on-pitch relationships with his team-mates would be an ideal way for him to lay foundations for 2016-17. And Wilshere seems to have played an active part in Arsenal’s pre-season training to date.

Wilshere is on the cusp of a critical campaign.
Wilshere is on the cusp of a critical campaign.Julian Finney/Getty Images

After so much misfortune, this season is potentially a make or break one for Wilshere in terms of his Arsenal career. The 24-year-old is keen to get back on the pitch in front of the club’s American fanbase:

Jack Wilshere @JackWilshere

Another good days training, day off then off to the USA to see our American fans ⚽️ can't wait! #AFC https://t.co/cxwUw03rmM

In San Jose the Gunners will face a difficult challenge, as the Major League Soccer season is currently ongoing, and the players who make up the All-Star team will be in much sharper shape. Arsenal will also come up against a familiar foe on the day.

That’ll be Montreal Impact’s veteran striker Didier Drogba, who terrorised the north London club during his time as a Chelsea player with his brutish forward play. As we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football, he loves going up against the Gunners:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Didier Drogba has scored 13 goals in his last 14 games vs. Arsenal (all comps). http://t.co/VIhiamj7j6

Drogba has shown some brilliant form this season, too. Per the MLS Twitter feed, he recently netted a hat-trick against Philadelphia Union:

Major League Soccer @MLS

Hat trick complete for @didierdrogba. #MTLvPHI https://t.co/b9xDNNwSGU

Handling him will be a big challenge for an Arsenal team who are still seeking to rediscover their edge ahead of the new campaign. But the match will be vital in expediting their return to full tilt.

For Gunners boss Arsene Wenger it’ll be a chance to see which players are approaching peak fitness with just over two weeks to go until their season opener against Liverpool. A win will be a tough ask against what’ll be a physical and organised set of MLS stars, though.

Prediction: MLS All-Stars 2-2 Arsenal

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