Barnet v Arsenal, pre-season friendly, July 18, 2009
Arsenal begin their pre-season programme on Saturday in familiar surroundings, playing local North London neighbours Barnet in the traditional curtain-raiser at the forever slopey ground that is Underhill.
For Barnet, currently playing in League Two, this match is clearly their most glamorous match of the season and a cause for one of the few sell out matches of the year. For Arsenal though, the match is of far less significance with Arsene Wenger likely to make wholesale changes throughout the match that could see up to 22 players taking the field for the Gunners.
The friendly affords Arsenal fans their first change to get a look Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of their defence, while almost foreign is the long-awaited return to action for Czech international Tomas Rosicky, who last took the field back on 26th January 2008.
Several first-teamers have still not returned to the Emirates this summer. Having played in the Confederations Cup and the U21 European Championships respectively, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Kieron Gibbs are still on holiday time, while young Mexican forward Carlos Vela is currently on international duty at the Gold Cup. For obvious reasons, Emmanuel Adebayor will also play no part in the match.
Gunners fans should remain relaxed though about their team’s ability to score goals, particularly with Andrei Arshavin and Eduardo da Silva leading Wenger’s attack.
On Barnet’s prospects ahead of the match, their danger-man is 21-year-old winger Albert Adomah. After scoring ten goals in 49 appearances last season the leggy and pacey upstart has been linked with a slew of sides higher up the divisions including Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield United, Watford, Blackpool and Norwich.
101predicts: Barnet 0 – Arsenal 4