FC Koln v Arsenal – Saturday 23 July – RheinEnergieStadion (15:30)
As the domestic season gets closer, teams are hard at work preparing for a feisty campaign. The players are starting to look sharper and more agile. The results of these encounters are of the least importance as fitness is the key factor.
The German outfit has been hard at work preparing for the season ahead. They finished in a satisfactory 10th place last campaign and will be out to better their position this time around. FC Koln has been on a drought in recent terms as they last lifted the Bundesliga title in 1990. The team has been under achieving for a number of years now and manager Ståle Solbakken has a job on his hands to transform his team into Champions League suitors. The manager will be putting the players through their paces to make sure they in top physical and mental condition. Club Captain Lukas Podolski will be relied on heavily throughout the season to rally his troops on as well as to find the back of the net. Fellow German shot-stopper Michael Rensing played a vital part last season and is now reaching his peak. He recently stated that the team needs to show more hunger and that the players need to stand up and make themselves known as there is enough quality within the squad. FC Koln’s goal this season will be to push for a European spot.
Arsenal have just got back from their tour of Malaysia, playing two encounters against a Malaysian eleven and local outfit Hangzhou Greentown. They won the first match by 4-0 and drew the second 1-1. Arsene Wenger felt this tour was a success as the players are starting to get match fit and have shaken off the cob webs of their holiday period. Arsenal have now set off to Germany and will see this game as good preparation for the annual Emirates Cup that takes place in two weeks time. Wenger has stated his desire to keep his current crop of players and bring in fresh faces to add depth to the squad. The most notable signing to date is the capture of Ivorian international, Gervinho, who joined the club on a long-
term contract and the Gunners fans will be waiting in anticipation to see what the striker can offer. On another positive note Wenger indicated that club captain Cesc Fabregas is making steady progress in his fight to overcome his muscular problem and has a 50-50 chance of featuring in this encounter.
Although this might be a friendly match, both teams know a victory is a positive step in the right direction. Arsenal should have the edge in this clash.