Arsenal’s preseason tour continues as they take on Viking FK, a club from the Norwegian Tippeligaen, tomorrow at 7:30pm local time. The match will take place at the Viking Stadion, which sounds a lot cooler than it actually looks.
The squad that travelled to Scandinavia today looks a bit different than the one that recently returned from the United States—notably, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey (or at least a blonde Welshman pretending to be him) joined the group. Gabriel Paulista is in the squad too, having recovered from the tonsillitis that kept him from traveling to the States, while Jack Wilshere misses out with a knee injury.
On Wilshere’s injury, Arsene Wenger said it’s a “slight patella problem,” per the International Business Times, which is as good as it gets in the world of knee injuries but worrying nonetheless. With Wilshere, you really never know—the injuries that have have plagued him often start as slight problems and snowball into major setbacks that keep him out for several months. Anyways, let’s cross our fingers that Jack recovers timely.
As for Sanchez and Ramsey, ESPNFC reports that they are back in full training and could be in contention to play in our Premier League opener against Liverpool next weekend. Although Sanchez and Ramsey are two key players in Arsenal’s setup, it’s likely that Arsene Wenger will ease them back into action to ensure they’re properly rested for the long, grueling season ahead. It’s doubtful that they start against Viking FK tomorrow, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger gave the pair a runout during the second half.
A bit about the opposition: Viking FK are currently in the middle of their season, sitting in 7th place in a league consisting of 16 teams. They finished last season in 5th place, where they’ve finished in three of the last four seasons. Fun fact: they knocked Chelsea out of the UEFA Cup in 2002.
Watch out for Rob Holding, who scored the first goal of his Arsenal career against Chivas last time out, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored a screamer against Chivas and will be looking to continue his brilliant pre-season form.
Below is my predicted starting XI—expect a number of youngsters like Chris Willock, Gedion Zelalem, and Jeff Reine-Adelaide to come on in the second half. It should be another comfortable win for the Arsenal, another 90 minutes to gain more match fitness ahead of the new season, and another chance to watch our new signings and young players in action.
Predicted Starting XI: Cech (c); Monreal, Bielik, Holding, Bellerin; Xhaka, Elneny; Iwobi, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Akpom.