By | August 12, 2022
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Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

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Arsenal play Chelsea in Orlando on Thursday night in the final match of the summer and the final stage of the Gunners’ U.S. tour. Mikel Arteta’s side have won every preseason match to date however, the Blues are expected to be a more difficult challenge. Chelsea are likely to be especially driven (or as determined as a team could be in a preseason game) because of their loss at home to Charlotte FC on penalties a couple of days in the past.

I’m not a fan of the fact the fact that Arsenal have been playing Chelsea. Preseason games against rivals never goes well. The last time the teams played each other last summer, a week prior to the opening date, Ruben Loftus-Cheek put in an incredibly late, risky attack against Thomas Partey that injured his ankle, which kept him out for the entire first month of the season. The tackle was not appropriate for an informal match (nor in a match that was competitive in the real sense). It is possible that the Gunners defeated Brentford in the opening game with Partey on the field. They’re likely to get at most the draw. Maybe Partey can earn the points against Chelsea and Chelsea, too.

There’s always the risk of injury each time you play in a match that is preseason friendly or a cup final however, playing against teams outside of your own league, and especially teams located across town, aren’t an optimal decision. There’s no evidence of an organized, deliberate effort to cause harm to opposing players, however, does a player who is trying to earn his playing time get a reason to put some space for the other team? Definitely. Are some players seeing the opportunity “send a message” to an opponent? Absolutely.

In addition to keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that everyone makes it through the game in good health I’ll be keeping an eye out for improvement in communication and understanding between Arsenal’s strikers. Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka displayed remarkable fluidity and mobility during the game against Orlando City SC However, there were moments when they weren’t in the same boat. It will be a matter of the time and repetitions. I’m looking forward to seeing the improvement against Chelsea.

I’m getting worried over Kieran Tierney Takehiro Tomiyasu as well as Emile Smith Rowe’s ability to play in the opening game of the season. The longer they’re off from taking part, the more certain I am that we won’t have them playing in the first game against Crystal Palace. I’m guessing that Ben White will play right back in the first team since at the moment, there’s the possibility that he’ll be in the starting line-up at the start of Matchday 1. In any case Ben White is likely to be the second backup RB during the season.

In a more positive note, Mikel Arteta said yesterday that we might be seeing Alex Zinchenko at some point in the future, based on his training today. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he did get at most a couple of minutes in the left back position alongside the first team players due to the same reason as Ben White is likely to play on the opposite part of defense. Outside shots are a possibility that Fabio Vieira could be making his debut appearance also. With the preseason drawing to a close, which players Mikel Arteta will be able to show with his first-choice players will be revealing.

Arsenal– Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Saka Odegaard, Martinelli, Jesus


Chelsea – Mendy, James, Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Emerson, Gallagher, Jorginho, Mount, Sterling, Havertz, Werner


WHY: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
WHEN: Saturday, July 23rd 5 pm PT | 8 pm ET | 1 am BST
US TV: Streaming on ESPN+


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