Arsenal continue their pre-season preparations with a high-profile friendly against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich later tonight. It will be the second match of their United States tour and will be played in Los Angeles, barely 48 hours after their Colorado Rapids victory on Monday. After leading out a primarily youthful line-up against the MLS outfit, manager Unai Emery should feature more of the senior squad against a club of Bayern’s stature. Here’s three things to look out for:
How far they’ve come since European heartache
It’s only been a couple weeks shy of two months since The Gunners’ season ended in abject heartache with the embarrassing 4-1 defeat in the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea. It’ll still be on the minds of many supporters but with the players having had a bit of a summer holiday and time off, it’s important to learn that they have shrugged off the disappointment in order to go again this season – with the ultimate aim of returning to the Champions League for the first time in what will be four seasons. The measurement of how far they have come performance-wise will be hard to judge, as for many of the first team squad, this game will be the first major minutes they have faced this summer. The vital aspect to take from this game is the attitude of the players – are they up to righting their wrongs? Will Shkodran Mustafi be affected by the boos in Colorado? How will Mesut Ozil play knowing many fans want him out of the club? Steps to answer these questions will be answered tonight.
Reiss Nelson’s breakneck promotion
Reiss Nelson didn’t feature on Monday night but it is very likely that you see the winger play tonight. Following a loan spell away from the club last season, Nelson has earned a call-up to the first-team setup for this coming campaign – suggesting he’s very much in the thoughts of his manager. Arsenal have a shortage of options out wide and it’s been well-reported that the boss doesn’t have too much cash to spend (£45m) on improvements ahead of the new Premier League season. Therefore, it may be wise to utilise the talented prospects they have at the club. The 19-year-old made 29 appearances at Hoffenheim last season where he netted seven goals which is over double the amount scored by Arsenal’s only first-choice winger Alex Iwobi last season. Be expected to see Nelson dazzle in North London in the near future.
Old ally, new foe
There’s a return for one of Arsenal’s unsuccessful youth prospects – in the sense that he never made it at the club – with Serge Gnabry likely to come face-to-face with his old teammates. The German winger left North London in 2016 in a £5m move to Werder Bremen. His performances there soon earned him a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world in Bayern Munich and last season he managed to pick up the Player of the Season award – that’s quite some turnaround for the man who struggled to get into West Brom’s squad whilst on loan in the 2015-16 season. Tony Pulis said at the time: “he’s not at the level we want” – well, that makes the unemployed manager look a tad silly now and Arsenal fans will be hoping that the same won’t go for them in tonight’s friendly.