The annual overture to our pre-season kicks off tomorrow with the game against Barnet. I am not sure how long this fixture has been part of our football calendar, I`m sure someone will tell us, but it serves Barnet well and seems to be part of a reciprocal agreement that allows us to use the ground for some youth, reserve and ladies fixtures.
It gives us the first opportunity to see any new signings in an Arsenal shirt and emerging youngsters alongside as those who`d managed to escape international duties during the summer. The pattern is usually straightforward with a different side in each half – a game of two halves and two teams. The 22 players in the squad for tomorrow`s game contain a healthy mix of experienced first teamers and promising youngsters plus our two new signings of the summer all of whom will have some time on the pitch if we follow normal practice.
The full squad is: Manuel Almunia (GK), Andrey Arshavin, Nacer Barazite, Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou, Craig Eastmond, Eduardo, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Lukasz Fabianski (GK), Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Conor Henderson, Laurent Koscielny, Henri Lansbury, Ignasi Miquel, Samir Nasri, Havard Nordtveit, Tomas Rosicky, Armand Traore, Thomas Vermaelen, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere
At least half the squad are first teamers but even the reserves have a pretty familiar look though we haven`t seen Barazite or Nordtveit in an Arsenal shirt for a while. It`s often been a fixture with a youth team look about it but this time there are only 7 players in their teens in the squad and 3 of those will leave their teen years behind before the year is out. This fixture in the season before last had 17 teenagers in the squad and last season 12. The times they are a changin`
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