This weekend sees the Emirates Cup take place, with Villarreal, Wolfsburg and Lyon joining Arsenal to contest the tournament in a four-way league format. In the final match of the competition, the Gunners face Wolfsburg. They'll be hoping that a convincing win in that game will be enough for them to claim their own trophy.
The Emirates Cup runs along slightly different lines to conventional football tournaments. In this competition, in addition to the standard three points for a win and one for a draw, teams are awarded extra points for every goal they score. The idea is to reward attacking football and provide entertainment for the watching fans.
Wolfsburg and Arsenal should be able to put on a show. Both enjoyed good seasons in 2014/15, claiming domestic cups and finishing second and third respectively. This encounter should provide a real indication as to how close both teams could come to claiming the Premier League or Bundesliga in 2015/16.
Date: Sunday, July 26
Time: 4.20 p.m. BST
Location: Emirates Stadium, London
Television coverage: BTSport (UK)
Streaming: BTSport app (UK); ESPN3.com (U.S.)
Arsene Wenger’s team for the second day of the Emirates Cup will largely be informed by his selection for the first match, in which they'll play Lyon. The likelihood is that he will make 11 changes from the Saturday, making the most of the unusually good health of the Gunners roster.
There are several players who could be in line to make their first appearances of pre-season, notably Tomas Rosicky and Serge Gnabry. It will be particularly intriguing to see how Gnabry fares against his countrymen given how long he has been absent from first-team action with an inflamed knee.
Predicted Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Emiliano Martinez; Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista, Nacho Monreal; Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky; Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Serge Gnabry; Olivier Giroud.
Like Arsenal's, Wolfsburg’s team will be decided in large part by how they line up against Villarreal in their first match of the tournament. However, one would imagine they’ll save their strongest lineup for the second game against the hosts.
With goals counting for points, Wolfsburg may well name an attacking lineup, pushing Andre Schurrle into midfield so they can name both him and Dutch goal-getter Bas Dost in the same XI.
Predicted Wolfsburg XI (4-2-3-1): Diego Benaglio; Vieirinha, Naldo, Timm Klose, Ricardo Rodriguez; Maximilian Arnold, Luiz Gustavo; Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne, Daniel Caligiuri; Bas Dost.
Players to Watch
Arsenal: Calum Chambers
A year ago, Calum Chambers was making a remarkable first impression at Arsenal. The departure of Thomas Vermaelen and an injury to Laurent Koscielny left a void at centre-half, and the new boy stepped in superbly. He looked incredibly comfortable in a position he barely knew and carried that form into the start of the Premier League season.
However, as the campaign wore on, Chambers began to look tired and ragged. Ironically, his worst performances came at right-back—the position in which he has most experience.
This summer, Chambers has been restored to centre-half, where he looks much more comfortable. He'll hope he can use the Emirates Cup to put forward his first-team credentials once again.
Wolfsburg: Andre Schurrle
It will be intriguing to see how Schurrle fares on his return to London after leaving Chelsea in February.
Despite arriving at Wolfsburg with an enormous price tag, he did not manage to nail down a regular role in the side in the second half of the 2014/15 season. Indeed, it wasn't until April that he scored his first goal in a Wolfsburg shirt, and he was left out of the starting XI for the DFB-Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund.
Schurrle needs a strong pre-season to secure a spot in the Wolfsburg team, so he will be hoping to provide the inexperienced Chambers with a very stern test.