Urawa Red Diamonds Preview: Time to Leave Asia on a High
Off the field of the play, the Luis Suarez transfer shenanigans have taken center stage and like the Gonzalo Higuain protracted saga, it will become boring at some point. Who knows if after Arsenal spends more time courting Suarez, Real Madrid will come up with some audacious offer Liverpool can’t refuse and we will start the campaign with just Olivier Giroud and maybe Marouane Chamakh, Park Ju Young and the World’s Best Striker, Nicklas Bendtner.
In the world we live today, the transfer market has been very inflated but if you want a player, put your money where your mouth is and just sign him up! We don’t need all his relatives coming to the Press to say how he’s going to come and all that crap. Everyone in Higuain’s family talked about how he was closing in on a move to Arsenal, Napoli sells Edinson Cavani for £55m and sign his replacement, an Arsenal target, with £30m.
When money talks bullsh*t works.
I’ll save my ranting for another post because today’s article is centered on Arsenal’s final game in the Asia Tour against Urawa Red Diamonds for the Saitama Cup (yaaaaay, a trophy!). I must say that it has been an enjoyable time watching the Gunners strut their stuff in Asia and one can only hope for better things ahead. In three games, albeit weaker opposition, the Gunners blasted in 13 goals and conceded just two.
Some youngsters like Chuba Akpom and Gideon Zelalem (oh my!) have come to the fold and showed what they are made of. The young striker spoke about how his exposure to the first team has made him crave for more but he has to understand that he’s not fully ready to eat with the big fish yet. A loan move or two would do wonders to his confidence.
However, there is a striker that has been on a hot streak in the preseason tour and his first half hat-trick against Vietnam was a damn pleasurable sight. With Giroud firing all cylinders in the Asia Tour, his teammate, Tomas Rosicky, believes that he’ll get even better,
“When you come to England it can be difficult in the first season because you have to settle and get used to it.
“So I expect him to have a better season than he did last year, and I believe he can score more than he did then. If he continues with how he has played in pre-season, then why not?”
The quality of Giroud’s goals, even though they were scored against weaker goalies, have been outstanding to say the least and one can only hope that he would replicate the same form in the forthcoming season. With a potential big-name striker like Suarez on Arsenal’s radar, one might have expected Giroud to be perturbed but he has continued to do his business on the pitch, giving his manager things to ponder about.
To team news, there are doubts over the fitness of Wojciech Szczesny, the Ox and Laurent Koscielny. With the Premier League curtain raiser against Aston Villa barely weeks away, Arsenal’s defensive rearguard has been badly depleted to its bare minimums.
With Andre Santos shipped back to Brazil and Nacho Monreal suffering a back injury that would sideline him for a couple of weeks, Arsenal is beginning the season with one left back in the form of Kieran Gibbs that has been in and out of Arsenal’s treatment in recent times. Beyond Gibbs, Arsene Wenger can only summon the services of Ignasi Miquel and one would wonder if he’s finally ready to make that step up.
Things aren’t looking good either in the center back positions with club captain, Thomas Vermaelen, and key defender, Laurent Koscielny, still nursing injuries. With Per Mertesacker flying the flag as the only experienced center back that’s still fit, Arsene Wenger has decided to optimize his squad by drafting Bacary Sagna to an unfamiliar center back position, which ultimately allows Carl Jenkinson to do his thing on the right.
With the Gibbs-Mertesacker-Sagna-Jenkinson combo looking like Arsenal’s defensive selection ahead of the new campaign, one can only wish that the injury gods would have mercy on the fit defenders in the club, because the Gunners are one defensive injury away from another crisis.
In midfield, it’s a different ball game entirely as Arsene Wenger gets headaches due to the plethora of options at his disposal. While Mikel Arteta continues to stamp his authority with his unrivaled influence, Aaron Ramsey’s performances have been a class act and it’s heartwarming to see him picking up where he left off last season. With Santi Cazorla still recharging his batteries in Spain, his position will be contested by Jack Wilshere and the evergreen Rosicky, which will be a nice prospect if you ask me.
Finally, it’s more than likely for the fans to welcome the lethal Podolski-Giroud-Walcott triumvirate but I would like to see Ryo Miyaichi and Chuba Akpom get run-outs and I believe they will.
Unlike the thumping of Indonesia and Vietnam, I would expect today’s game to be in the same mold with the outing against Nagoya Grampus, with an inevitable Arsenal victory. The Gunners will be at their own peril if they expect a stroll in the park against Urawa Red Diamonds.
They won the J-League in 2006 and finished last season in third place. They certainly won’t be pushovers.
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