The pre-season preparation kicked in full earnest as Arsenal announced the squad for pre-season Asia tour. Arsene Wenger will embark on the pre-season with a strong squad. But, it is not devoid of star absentees.
Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky, Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina are missing from the squad. Sanchez and Ospina are missing because they have been given an extended time-off. Their national duty in the recently concluded Copa America held in Chile warranted extra rest.
Welbeck is missing the flight because he is still recuperating from the knee injury. In fact, the English international is missing in action since the last few weeks of the season. It ruled him out of the FA cup final and England’s internationals at the end of the season. It looks like Welbeck will have to fight against time to get fit for the season.
Rosicky is not a major concern but he has suffered a minor injury on international duty with Czech Republic. It robbed him of syncing up with his national team mate Petr Cech for the first time at club level.
Cech is included in the squad and will make his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt in the tournament. It would be a precursor to a season that will finally see a strong keeper in Arsenal colors.
Also missing from the 27-man squad are the youngsters Carl Jenkinson, Yaya Sanogo, Serge Gnabry and Joel Campbell. All the four are rumoured to be going out on loan and the decision to keep them at home would only emphasize that. Wenger may not have immediate plans for these four but do not rule out long term future for any of them.
An exciting addition to the squad is the highly-rated English starlets Dan Crowley and Chris Willoch. Both these young players are 17 years old and would be itching to gain some valuable experience. This would be their best chance to impress Wenger and they look good to grab this opportunity.
There are other young players included in the squad. Chuba Akpom (19) is already part of the first-team squad and this pre-season would be another chance to cement his place. Gedion Zelalem (18 years), Alex Iwobi (19) and Jeff Reine-Adelaide (17) are going to add the excitement of young scholars on the tour.
Arsenal are expected in Singapore on Monday and will start their tournament with a game against the local side. The tournament also involves Premier League teams Everton and Stoke. This will be followed by involvement in the two-day Emirates cup.