Arsenal’s final preparations for their first pre-season fixture of the new campaign are complete.
The Gunners were last in action in May when they beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0, although it wasn’t enough to earn a top-seven finish in the Premier League last season.
As a result, the upcoming campaign won’t feature any European football for the first time in over two decades.
That could be beneficial as a reduced schedule just might allow Arsenal to plot their route back into the top-six and therefore earn a return to the Europa League, at the very least, for the 2022/23 campaign.
Before the big Premier League opener against newly-promoted Brentford in a month, Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff put the Gunners squad through their paces during a training session in Scotland ahead of the pre-season fixture against Hibernian at Easter Road later today.
And there has been media footage released to get fans in the mood.
Here’s what we spotted from the video and those training pictures and what it tells us ahead of the game against Hibernian.
Arsenal have made one signing so far this summer as Nuno Tavares’ £6.8m transfer from Benfica was officially confirmed over the weekend.
And he’s signed just in time to make the trip to Scotland.
The 21-year-old is expected to provide cover for Kieran Tierney in the left-back role for the upcoming season, but with the Scotland international on holiday following Euro 2020, there’s a chance for Tavares to impress against Hibernian.
It’s likely that the defender will get at least 45 minutes this evening, whether that’s in the first or second half remains to be seen.
As seen in the image above, he was tasked with shackling Ainsley Maitland-Niles as the pair competed for possession during Monday’s training session.
Wonderkids called up
Whilst Arteta’s squad wasn’t too affected by this summer’s European Championships and Copa America, he is still without the likes of Tierney, Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka and Bernd Leno.
In addition, other noteable absentees from the squad that has travelled to Scotland includes William Saliba – set to join Marseille on loan – the injured Gabriel Magalhaes and Gabriel Martinelli who is preparing for Olympics duty with Brazil.
Therefore, a few of Arsenal’s most promising youngsters have made the trip to make up the numbers – and perhaps catch the eye of Arteta to save the club some millions in the transfer market.
Omari Hutchinson (pictured above), Omar Rekik, Harry Clarke and Jack Henry-Francis are amongst those who have made the trip.
Balogun shirt number
It is going to be a big season for Folarin Balogun.
At the end of April, it was announced that following constant speculation regarding his future that he had signed a new deal at the Emirates Stadium and his aim to establish himself as a first-team player next season.
“My ambitions for next season are to make an impact on the first team,” he said. “I see it as something I’ve taken upon myself to be able to go over there and make an impact and not just be one of the numbers.
“I want to be someone who eventually leads that group so I would say I have quite driven ambitions and we’ll see if I can make them happen.”
It would appear that Balogun has already completed one of his goals as he was seen wearing the no.26 top in training.
That suggests a first-team promotion.
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Arsenal are expected to be busy this summer in terms of new signings with Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White and James Maddison just some of the names being linked with a move to the Emirates.
At the same time, many players are expected to leave.
That is unlikely to happen until after the tour of Scotland and therefore it’s no surprise that Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alexandre Lacazette have all travelled.
For some of the players mentioned, it could be their final appearances in an Arsenal shirt, and for others, it could be a chance to impress Arteta and his coaching staff.
With that said, there’s a good chance that the squad that jets out to America to play Inter Milan and one of Everton or Millonarios in the Florida Cup will look a little different.
Although, that depends on how quickly some deals can get completed.