Arsenal are heading back to the United States this summer, so let’s take a look at some of the things to watch out for on the tour.
Arsenal last travelled to the United States as a team in 2019, with Unai Emery leading his side out against Colorado Rapids, Bayern Munich, Fiorentina, and Real Madrid as part of the International Champions Cup.
This summer, Arsenal will return for the Florida Cup, facing off against Inter Milan in the semi-final before taking on either Everton or Millonarios in the final or third-place match.
The Inter match takes place on July 25th at 23:00 BST, with the follow-up match on July 28/29th at 23:00/01:30 BST, depending on whether Arsenal make the final. If you want to spice things up and put money on the games, check out top USA sportsbook sites like here.
Now let’s take a look at the stories to look out for on tour.
Will Stan Kroenke turn up?
As we know, Arsenal are currently owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company founded by Stan Kroenke to be the parent company of his professional sports franchises.
But recently, Stan has had almost no public involvement with Arsenal. His son Josh has occasionally attended a match or spoken with a supporters’ group, but Stan has completely stepped back in recent years – and he wasn’t too involved to begin with.
With Arsenal travelling to their owner’s home country, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Kroenkes turn up. At the very least, you’d expect Josh to be in attendance, but they should all be going on a bit of a PR offensive after the Super League debacle.
Gabriel Martinelli’s return
There’s still not much certainty around Gabriel Martinelli’s summer, with the possibility remaining that he could receive a very late call-up for the Tokyo Olympics with Brazil.
But for now, the young Arsenal forward is out of the Brazil squad and set to join his club for pre-season.
Martinelli played a big part on tour in 2019, including starring on a couple of occasions in the United States. He scored his first-ever goal for Arsenal in his debut friendly against the Colorado Rapids, and he caught the eye again with a lung-bursting run through the Fiorentina team.
Martinelli hasn’t always been part of Mikel Arteta’s starting lineup, but this pre-season is a great chance to break back in – assuming he’s on the plane.
New kits in action
As things stand, Arsenal have only officially announced their new away kit, debuting the yellow strip in a win over Crystal Palace towards the end of last season.
But the home kit and third kit are sure to follow soon, and you’d expect at least one of them to get a showcase on the United States tour.
Perhaps the Gunners could even look to take advantage of all the eyes on their Florida camp to use it for the actual kit announcement.
The designs of all three kits have already unofficially leaked, so we’re just waiting to see how they look on the players now.
Academy stars stepping up
One big obstacle for Mikel Arteta to overcome is the absence of a number of starters due to the various international tournaments going on this summer.
Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba are away at the Olympics, and Bernd Leno will make a late return after Euro 2020, among others. That opens up the need for the academy players to step up and fill spots, particularly at centre-back and in goal.
Fortunately, Arsenal have a couple of great academy goalkeepers in Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo. Though Okonkwo’s contract situation is currently still up in the air, the murmurs are positive, and at least one of them is sure to get a game or two.
In defence, this might be our first chance to get a good look at Omar Rekik, who joined from Hertha BSC in January. The centre-back has had a couple of injury problems since then, but he’s fit again now and recently made his international debut for Tunisia.
New signing debuts
Another opportunity presented by the absences of various players is that Arsenal’s rumoured new signings will get an immediate chance to impress.
Kieran Tierney is currently on an extended holiday due to his participation at Euro 2020, so even if he returns in time for the Florida camp, he’s not going to be fully fit. Should Arsenal complete a move for Tavares, he’ll surely feature on the tour.
In midfield, Arsenal have Granit Xhaka away at the Euros and linked with an exit, Lucas Torreira involved in Copa America, Matteo Guendouzi injured, Joe Willock’s future uncertain. Again, there’s certainly potential for Sambi Lokonga to break in quickly.
There’s a lot to watch out for in Arsenal’s pre-season preparations, and we hope a lot to look forward to as well.