Arsenal will kickoff their preseason campaign with a friendly match (Saturday, July 19th) away to Boreham Wood FC, who play in Conference South – the sixth level of the English football pyramid. Arsenal’s players who featured in the World Cup will remain on holiday, but for those who missed out on the summer tournament, this match presents an opportunity to make an early impact on the squad.
And given the brevity of Arsenal’s preseason this summer, tomorrow’s friendly will be a rare opportunity for many to get significant playing time. This fixture against Boreham Wood will only be followed by a trip to New York to face the Red Bulls and their two matches in the Emirates Cup against Benfica and Monaco before the Community Shield showdown against Manchester City at Wembley.
Arsène Wenger has already announced that his squad will feature a blend of experienced players and youngsters fighting to break through to the first team. Additionally, the Arsenal manager revealed that he will rotate all eleven players for the second half.
The match at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park has sold out well in advance, but fans lucky enough to secure a ticket will have the chance to see some of Arsenal’s biggest names, including Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, and Wojciech Szczesny. The 4,500-capacity stadium, which houses Arsenal Ladies and Arsenal’s reserve team, will host the debut of Arsenal’s new Puma kits.
Should Wenger start with Arsenal’s strongest available squad, their starting eleven may still present some peculiarities, particularly in defense. With all three of their first team center backs still recovering from the World Cup, Wenger may give opportunities to Ignasi Miquel and Semi Ajayi in the heart of defense. The two youngsters both went out on loan last season, to Leicester and Charlton respectively, and will hope to impress their manager enough into making the first team squad this year.
Elsewhere, more familiar names will feature. In front of Szczesny in goal, expect English duo Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson to occupy the fullback roles behind an experienced midfield trio of Ramsey, Arteta, and Flamini. Up top, Yaya Sanogo may be flanked either side by Rosicky and 19-year-old Serge Gnabry. Possibly coming off the bench will be Abou Diaby, who has not featured for the club since tearing his cruciate ligament early last season.
The result of this friendly is not nearly as important as its purpose in contributing towards a positive preseason. But that being said, given the overwhelming gulf in class between these two sides, expect an easy Arsenal victory with many, many goals.