Match Preview: MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal

Date: Friday 29th July 2016
Location: Avaya Stadium, San Jose (CA)
Competition: Friendly
Kick-Off: 01:01 BST

Arsenal’s tour of the USA kicks off tonight with a match against some of the best players the MLS has to offer, with the familiar faces of Didier Drogba, Andre Pirlo and Kaka all expected to take the field in San Jose, California tonight.

After drawing 1-1 in France against RC Lens last week, manager Arsene Wenger will be hoping to see an improved performance from his side as many of his more experienced players return to the squad.

The likes of Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, and Jack Wilshere are all expected to play some part in the game after returning from their extended holidays after Euro 2016, whilst new signing Granit Xhaka could make his debut in this forthcoming fixtures. Santi Cazorla is also available after travelling stateside with the squad.

Whilst Wenger has seen his options boosted after multiple returning faces, the long-term injury suffered by Per Mertesacker in the week means he will likely be forced to field something of a make-shift defensive unit with Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny both still unavailable for selection.

Calum Chambers is almost guaranteed a starting berth and he will be looking to improve on last week’s display against Lens, with his mistimed header leading to the opposition scoring in the first half. He might well be partnered by Rob Holding, the man who joined from Bolton Wanderers in a £2.5m move last week, although Francis Coquelin revealed on social media that he had been playing in defence in training so he is expected to be given a chance in an unfamiliar role against the All-Stars.

There are still limited options for Wenger too in attack with Danny Welbeck injured and Olivier Giroud still on holiday, so it’s likely that Theo Walcott will be given a further chance to impress after a mixed display against Lens on Friday.

The Gunners’ opposition features the brightest and best talents in American soccer but is undoubtedly their attack that looks the most formidable, with veteran strikers Didier Drogba and David Villa supplemented by former Spurs man Clint Dempsey and Toronto FC’s speedy trickster Sebastian Giovinco.

Arsenal will play Chivas de Guadalajara in Los Angeles on Monday to complete their US tour before heading back to Europe to face Viking FK and Manchester City in Norway and Sweden, respectively.

Unvailable: Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Sanchez, Welbeck (injury), Gabriel (illness), Giroud, Koscielny, Ozil, Ramsey (holiday)

Predicted Line-up: Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Coquelin, Gibbs; Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Reine-Adelaide; Walcott

Callum Perritt

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