The annual North London pre-season tournament, The Emirates Cup, kicked off this weekend. The campaign which is staged at Arsenal's Emirtates Stadium contains some of Europe's hottest teams. This Emirates Cup sees AC Milan, Olympique Lyon, and Celtic arriving in North London to compete with Arsenal in their backyard.
The Gunners began their first match since their pre season camp in Austria against Italian giants AC Milan. Both have been touted as the favourite of the short tournament so it was destined to be a thrilling encounter.
This would be Arsene Wenger and his men's first decent test before the commencement of the 2010/2011 campaign. Having thrashed a couple of unknown Austrian outfits, this was a chance for the gunners to prove they can be a force in the Premier League and Europe this season.
Although it wasn't all action and fast play it was a exciting meeting between to impressive sides, with the game finishing 1-1. Arsenal have already been decimated by the injury bug with captain Cesc Fabregas, vice captain Robin van Persie, sharpshooter Nicklas Bendtner, and midfielders Abou Diaby, Alexandre Song, and Denilson all absent due to injuries.
This ensured Wenger was forced to call upon some of his highly promising teenage sensations. Young gun midfielders Emmanuel Frimpong and Jack Wilshere both received the nod to start.
The pair were highly impressive, showing great composure and maturity up against a formidable, experienced opposition midfield in Clarence Seedorf, Genaro Gattuso, and former Gunner Mathieu Flamini. The Milan trio boasted over 1200 caps between them whilst Wilshere and Frimpong have a mere 29.
Wilshere has already been touted as the next huge thing and many expect the Englishman to replace Cesc Fabregas when inevitably departs for Barcelona. Frimpong on the other hand has been somewhat of a quiet achiever who has swooped under the radar in the Arsenal reserve and youth teams.
However the 18 year old has now shown a number of assured performances this pre-season and it has sparked the contemplation of whether he is capable of breaking into the Arsenal first XI this season.
With Arsenal destined to have their usual injury woes, Frimpong could be a surprise sensation for Wenger in 2010/2011. Primarily deployed as a defensive midfielder, the England born Ghanaian, is capable of playing all across the defensive line and as a central midfielder.
Blessed with great strength, an incisive passing range, ferocious tackling and great visibility, Frimpong has the potential to become a world class midfielder. This season Wenger looks likely to utilized the 4-3-3 leaving three central midfielders in the middle.
Cesc Fabregas and Alexandre Song look to have their places sown up. Fabregas will take the general and maestro role with Song responsible for the defensive duties. This leaves the left sided role open with Abou Diaby and Denilson both vying for a spot.
But is Frimpong capable of taking that role?
Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere may also be utilized in the middle especially with the current absence of Fabregas but with Arsenal set to be missing a few midfielders for their opening game against Liverpool on August 9th, could Frimpong be the answer?