I sincerely hope that no one is injured.
The final match of the summer and the final leg on the Gunners’ tour of the United States will take place in Orlando this evening when Arsenal face Chelsea. Mikel Arteta’s team has won all of their preseason games so far, but the Blues are expected to be a far more difficult opponent. Chelsea, fresh off a penalty shootout loss to Charlotte FC, will be fired up (or as fired up as a team can be for a preseason encounter).
I’m not a fan of Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea. To play a preseason game with a rival is rarely successful. During a preseason game between the two teams last year, Ruben Loftus-Cheek made a reckless tackle on Thomas Partey that resulted in Partey’s ankle injury. It was a test that had no place in a friendly competition (nor in a competitive match, really). With Partey on the field, the Gunners may have beaten Brentford. At the very least, they’ll get a tie. It’s possible that Partey can help Chelsea grab a point as well.
Every match, whether it’s a preseason friendly or a cup final, has the potential to result in an injury, but playing against teams from your league, especially those from across town, is not a good idea. In no way am I implying that there is a deliberate, concerted effort to harm opposition players, but does a player who wants to have a chance on the field have a heightened incentive to do so? Definitely. Players may perceive this as an opportunity to “send a message” to an opponent. Absolutely.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on Arsenal’s attackers to see if there is any improvement in their understanding and chemistry during the encounter. Against Orlando City SC, Gabriel Jesus, Martin degaard, and Bukayo Saka had remarkable fluidity and movement, but there were definitely occasions where they were not on the same page. That’ll come with practice and more reps. It would be great if we could continue to make improvements against Chelsea.
To begin the season, I’m anxious about the availability of Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe. There is a growing belief in my mind that they will not play against Crystal Palace because of their protracted absence from the field. There is a good likelihood that Ben White will start in the right back position on the first day of the season. Regardless, he’s likely to be the team’s backup running back this season.
The good news is that Mikel Arteta suggested yesterday that Alex Zinchenko might fight again if he trains well enough today. For the same reasons that Ben White is expected to play on the other side of the defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got some time at left back with the first team. In the event that Fabio Vieira makes his debut, there’s a slim chance. As the preseason comes to a conclusion, it will be interesting to see who Mikel Arteta brings out with his clear first-choice group.
Arsenal have the following players: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Saka degaard, Martinelli, Jesus
Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Emerson (Everton), Gallagher (Jorginho), Mount (Sterling), Havertz (Werner), James (Mendy)
WHAT: 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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