Arsene Wenger has included seven members of the U21 side in his squad for Saturday’s friendly against New York Red Bulls.
Goalkeeper Damian Martinez has travelled as back-up to Wojciech Szczesny, whilst Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Ignasi Miquel, Kristoffer Olsson and Jon Toral have all also made the trip to the United States.
With Yaya Sanogo left out of the squad for unknown reasons, Chuba Akpom is the only striker in the travelling party, meaning the 18 year old will have an excellent opportunity to showcase his credentials at the weekend. Akpom, who spent time on loan at Brentford and Coventry City last season, was amongst the best performers in the victory over Boreham Wood and is hopeful of breaking into the squad in time for the new season.
Miquel and Hayden could start alongside eachother in central-defence, but the duo are also competing against eachother for a potential promotion. Julio Pleguezuelo and Semi Ajayi have been left at home, suggesting that they will not be elevated to the senior squad this Summer.
Bellerin, despite the signing of Mathieu Debuchy, still harbours hopes of getting into the squad and the Spaniard could play 45 minutes on Saturday, whilst Olsson will be looking to build on his scintillating showing against Boreham Wood. Toral is finally receiving recognition for his hard-working performances in the U21 team, although his chances of an immediate breakthrough do appear a little remote.
Benik Afobe, meanwhile, has been left out, which doesn’t reflect too kindly on his current standing at the club. The England U21 international is out of contract next Summer, and, on this evidence, it won’t be renewed, despite him finding the net from the penalty spot against Boreham Wood. A loan or permanent departure is likely for Afobe in the near future.
Chris Willock has also not been included, with the youngster instead likely to feature for the U21s in their friendly against Harrow Borough at the weekend. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who returned to training yesterday, has remained in England to work on his fitness, with fellow wingers Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Ryo all still unavailable owing to injury.
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are set to play their first minutes of pre-season, whilst it is interesting to note that Francis Coquelin has travelled, suggesting the Frenchman could well be involved in the squad this season. Gedion Zelalem, already part of the senior squad, returns to the country where he was first discovered by Arsenal.
Joel Campbell should represent Arsenal for the first time in the Emirates Cup, with Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, Debuchy and Thomas Vermaelen set to start training on Monday, where they will soon be joined by Alexis Sanchez. The club’s German trio of World Cup winners, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski, are not set to return until much later.
Arsenal squad for New York Red Bulls fixture: Szczesny, Gibbs, Monreal, Jenkinson, Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Diaby, Coquelin, Zelalem, Martinez, Bellerin, Hayden, Akpom, Miquel, Olsson, Toral.