Boreham Wood Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
As we all know, Arsene Wenger has returned to London Colney to begin training with the lads and we would have a chance to witness the Puma kit for the first time when the Gunners take on lowly Boreham Wood today. Boreham Wood plays in the Conference South, which is the sixth tier of English football and they would come up against a strong Arsenal that still has a couple of players recuperating from an exhilarating World Cup.
There are more friendly matches lined up for the Gunners as they take on Thierry Henry and his New York Red Bulls before shining the Emirates alight with its annual Emirates Cup contest. The official website published photos of some first-team players training ahead of today’s clash and there were a couple of household names with some youngsters here and there.
The tickets for this fixture has been sold out and 4,500 lucky fans will get to witness the Gunners strut their stuff in Meadow Park. Arsene Wenger is odds on to chose from his players that missed out on an opportunity to play for their respective nations in the concluded World Cup.
My expectations for the game aren’t high and like every preseason fixture against a minnow, I expect the Gunners to run around in pedestrian fashion and they’d probably knock a hatful of goals past Boreham Wood. Yaya Sanogo is one player that couldn’t find the back of the 14 games he featured for the Gunners last season, and for his sake, I hope he gets among the goals today.
To injuries, Abou Diaby is surprisingly fit but there has been some progress in the Walcott’s knee situation as provided from the horse’s mouth, Arsene Wenger,
“He’s progressing very well. He’s worked very hard during the summer and we expect him to be back in full training at the end of August. Once he’s back in full training it can be very quick. He has a good basis, which is what he’s working on now.”
The player himself has been buzzing since Alexis Sanchez arrived at the club and he has stated that he can’t wait to play alongside the Chilean sensation. With the club relatively stocked in attacking options, it would be wise to ease Walcott into the thick of things because he’s vital to Arsenal’s cause this season.
Aaron Ramsey has also been on the news lately, revealing that winning a trophy last season has lifted some burden off the manager and the team, but they’re not going to rest on their laurels.
“I think we have a great opportunity,” he told Arsenal.com. “Hopefully all the people that have played at the World Cup come back strong and fit and we can hit the ground running when the season starts.
“The feeling we got after winning the FA Cup was something special and I’m sure that everybody wants the same thing again this season. We’ll be giving it everything to win a few things this year.
“The media were always saying things like ‘Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for this many years’. The number kept getting higher so it was important to win something to take that burden away. It takes the pressure off us.
“I think the team has come on a long way in the last couple of seasons. We’ve grown a lot – there’s a great team spirit here, everybody wants to work for each other so we’ll give it a good go.”
The Gunners would have another stint at silverware when they take on Manchester City in the Community Shield, a club that pummeled them at the Etihad last season and salvaged a draw at the Emirates. With more signings imminent, the feel-good factor is back in the team and we can only hope that it culminates into another victory which would also help the Gunners psychologically. Arsenal had just two victories against the top six teams last season, and that was the home and away triumph over Tottenham, They drew with the other five at home and conceded 21 goals away. That was shocking.
To team news, the team basically picks itself for this contest with the experienced heads probably getting a run out from the onset before the Young Guns take their places in the second half.
Wojciech Szczesny would be the custodian between the sticks and he’d probably be replaced by Damian Martinez in the second half. Martinez last game for the Gunners was that enthralling 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One cup and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t convince Arsene Wenger. Rumors of Colombia’s David Ospina has been gathering momentum but we will see how things pan out in the coming weeks.
In defense, there would be no Mertesielny axis of awesome in the heart of the back but with the defensive duo of Ignasi Miquel and Seyi Ajayi returning from loan spells at the Championship, they’ll be odds on to feature for the Gunners. I still have a concern with this position because Thomas Vermaelen cannot be relied upon to stay fit, he just has a sad penchant for getting injured. In the full back positions, Wenger would have the luxury of shuffling between Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal and I envisage that they’d get 45 minutes each. With new signing, Matt Debuchy, still on holiday, Carl Jenkinson will have another chance to show what his made off.
In holding midfield, the experienced duo of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini will hold the fort while Aaron Ramsey would be given the license to roam further forward as the creative hub of the team, a position he struggled to make an impact in the 2011/12 season but with his amazing goal haul in the last campaign, I expect him to be in bullish mode. In attack, I’d expect Yaya Sanogo to spearhead the front line with Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky supporting him from the flanks.
My predicted lineup would look like this,
Enjoy the game wherever you are.
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