Barnet v Arsenal 19 July 2008 – kick-off 3.00pm @ Underhill – Live on Arsenal TV
Arsenal’s traditional curtain raiser takes place this week-end at Underhill, where a youthful and non-Euro 2008 Arsenal will take on Barnet. Packed into this little ground in north London, there will 5,500 fans wanting to get their first glimpse of Arsenal in their new kit and to see the Gunners get off to a flying start.
The Euro 2008 stars plus the African contingent are not due to play on Saturday neither are youngsters Fran Merida or Kierran Gibbs both on international duty with their respective under 19 national teams.
Arsene Wenger has named a strong squad with Almunia, Sagna, Clichy, Walcott, Bendtner and Denilson amongst the squad. There will also be first appearances for Arsenal new boys Aaron Ramsey and Carlos Vela.
For Bendtner, pre-season is important, as he has kept quiet this summer whilst Adebayor’s agent has touted him all over Europe. A good pre-season could see the Dane leap-frog Adebayor in the pecking order.
Some of the youngsters will try to prove to Arsene that they are the answers to his problems. Jay Simpson who had a successful spell at Millwall last season knows he has this match plus pre-season training in Austria to prove to the boss that he should stay at the club.
Three of the players named last year by Wenger, Lansbury, Randall and Barazite will look to impress and make Arsene think twice about loaning them out next season. All three have the ability, now they must show the boss that they can produce it on a regular basis.
Harvard Nordveit will look to getting his Arsenal career up and running. Harvard suffered injuries last season, which put his development back, this season he will wish to be considered part of the first team squad, tomorrow is an ideal time to start..
One player of exceptional talent is Jack Wilshere. Still 16, but Wenger believes this boy is ready for first team action. For those who have seen play, this is no Wenger hype, he will get his chance in the pre-season games, and no doubt in the Carling Cup too. Wilshere will have football commentators salivating at his ball control and skill.
Others will just enjoy the opportunity of playing with the first team at a ground that is their “home”, they will know that they are still a couple of years away from possibly troubling the manager with selection problems.