Date: 18th July 2008 at 3:48pm
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With the silly season still going full speed ahead, Arsenal kicks off the new season with our traditional pre-season fixture at Underhill against Barnet FC. This will be Barnet`s second match of the pre-season as they beat Conference South opponents, St. Albans City on Tuesday by a score of 1-0, thanks to a great volley by Bee`s trialist Ryan Hall.

For Arsenal, this is a game that the youngsters always get their chance to shine. The starting line-up usually contains a good mix of first team players and reserves, but by the start of the second half we should see a full-fledged youth team. This is a chance for the squad to sharpen up physically and to get their touch back into the proper groove, but maybe more importantly, the key to this game is to come out injury-free. Arsenal`s record in this fixture in the last eight years is expectedly impressive at 6-0-2.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene has reiterated his worries about spending big in the transfer market. ‘Of course I am in a position where I can spend the money” he said.
“But every time we have done such a great job with the young players that you are concerned ‘do we kill a young player or not by bringing another player in?’

It is a very sensitive subject which is not specially linked with money.’
He is also very proud of the way this club has balanced the fiscal books over the years. He said ‘There is a lot of talk in the press, but we have always managed at this club by balancing the budget. We should not be criticized for that and should be respected for that.

Arsene also complained of the lack of luck his side received in the final run for the title. ‘It was by far [the most unlucky term], with the decisions and injuries. At some stage you could not believe how bad it was,’ said Wenger.

‘But you have to deal with that and have to use it as a platform to come back and be even stronger mentally.’
With all the talk surrounding transfers it`s hard to find any good pre-match quotes for this game.

Barnet Team News:

Barnet will be without their goal scorer from Tuesday night, Ryan Hall, as he damaged a ligament. But defender, Ismail Yakubu, has overcome a thigh injury, and Neil Bishop has recovered from a dead leg. Both will be fit for Saturday afternoon`s clash.

Player to watch: Lee Harrison

Barnet`s thirty six year old captain and number one goalkeeper should be the busiest man on the pitch for the Bees. He recently signed a new contract to keep him at Underhill for another two years in a player/coach deal.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal fans should see debut`s for two new additions to the squad, Aaron Ramsey and Carlos Vela, while Samir Nasri has not been named in the squad. Almunia, Clichy, Sagna, Bendtner, Denilson and Walcott will bring the experience to a very youthful side.

If you are looking forward to seeing Theo in his new number 14, don`t hold your breath because squad numbers will not be used for this first pre-season game. Instead starters will wear numbers from 1-11 and substitutes will wear 12-24.

Player to watch: Havard Nordtveit and Mark Randall

Really take your pick on who to watch as so many promising youngsters will be on display. I picked two here because I couldn`t decide who to choose. I, personally, have not seen much of Nordtveit but I have heard what a wonderful talent he is. According to Le Boss, he beholds a maturity level well beyond his tender age. Like a Cesc in the defense.

Mark Randall is another one I am looking forward to seeing on display come Saturday. Many people should remember his Premier League debut back in May, when he came on against Sunderland and scored a perfectly good, disallowed debut goal and come close to scoring another. He looks like a very promising player that could very well play a major part in Arsenal`s Carling Cup team this fall.

Match Prediction:

I suspect Arsenal will win this by two or three goals to nil.