With due respect to Utrecht, the first real test of the pre-season comes tomorrow night when we take on Ajax in Amsterdam.
There’s nothing else to talk about – Olivier Dacourt rumours excepting – so I might endulge myself with some idle speculation.
The question is, who will Arsène start the game with? I imagine Lehmann will come in for his first pre-season jaunt, given that the only alternative is Mark Howard, a rookie of the highest order. As for the rest of the back four, can we look any further than the usual suspects: Cole, Lauren, Senderos and Toure?
It’s the midfield of the post-Vieira era that’ll be of some interest, with new boy Hleb now vying for a berth. In theory, we’ve now got four wide players (Pires, Ljungberg, Reyes and Hleb) challenging for the two wide slots, and four (Flamini, Fabregas, Gilberto and Bentley) pushing for the two central midfield positions.
In practise, Gilberto has only just come back from pre-season and will not play, so who the two centre midfielders will be is anyone’s guess. Fabregas has not played a single second of pre-season either – where’s he been?
Then there’s Song, who’s been quite solid in the midfield. He’s on trial – 30-day money back no quibbles guarantee – so it could be wise to play him again.
And up front, Bergkamp (ex-Ajax) will surely be favoured ahead of van Persie (despised by Ajax) to partner the captain, Tel Henry (loved by one and all).
So, to sum up this morning’s ramblings, I have very little idea of who will start tomorrow night.
Which is why Arsène Wenger is the manager of Arsenal and I am not.