We are now less than two weeks from Anfield, there is merely one remaining pre-season fixture next weekend away to Legia Warsaw. There really isn't much time left for our returning World Cup players to recover their fitness, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days and who gets the nod at Anfield. Certainly we haven't had as many players involved in the World Cup as in previous years which is a help.
The Emirates Cup has provided us with some big positives as well as the odd negative. Of the young players Wilshere and Frimpong were the winners. Frimpong showed his defensive abilities and physical power, even if his distribution was a little erratic and his positioning a little faulty, these will come with time. Wilshere bustled very effectively, he was incisive in attacking areas and his overall work ethic was good, the only black mark being the complete joke of a penalty that the incompetent Marriner awarded to Celtic late on.
Generally there were very few poor performances, even if some were a little unspectacular. Walcott stood out with some good running and much more consistent final balls. Clichy and Sagna were both looking sharp. Chamakh looks an excellent addition, he has the ability to play as a lone striker and hold the ball up effecticely. Maybe I'm being harsh but Carlos Vela doesn't convince me, he also doesn't appear to have a position. Nasri has been bright and hopefully he can step up a gear this year.
Defensively there were some lapses, but one cannot start reading too much into the odd pre-season lapse. The Milan goal was the most worrying example, we tried to hold too high a line and this made it hard to attack the ball. Celtic were extremely lucky with the first deflection dropping in their lap in front the the goal, while their second was after a clear offside, the Celtic man on the right wing was miles offside and clearly interfering with play as the ball was passed inches from him. Positively Almunia had a very good game and must be ahead of Fabiasnki in the current pecking order, while Koscielny looked sharp and read the game well.
In attacking terms our squad is strong, we still have Cesc, Diaby, RVP and Bendtner to return. It will be a tricky decision as to who gets the nod in the attacking positions. Wilshere and Frimpong give us more bite in the midfield, something that has been sadly lacking in the last couple of years, I really hope Densilon doesn't get as much of a look in as he did last season. Defensively we definitely need another centre back and Arsene has acknowledged this fact. The goalkeeping spot is a slight concern, but we should not panic buy, we must only bring someone in who is better than what we already have, while Almunia is not the greatest, he is still a very decent goalkeeper.
Taking into account the hints from Arsene and the pre-season form, it is still very hard to predict who will start an Anfield. I would expect Almunia to start in goal and the back four to be Sagna, Kosceilny/Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy. The midfield is much harder to predict. Injury will keep Song out I would imagine, while Cesc is unlikely to be fit enough. Diaby must have a good chance, Frimpong must be playing himself into contention but one would imagine that away at Anfield would be too big a game for his competitive debut? Wilshere must have a good chance. I really hope Denilson doesn't play but we all know about Arsene's bizarre belief in his 'ability'. It would be hard to leave out Nasri and Arshavin, whole Walcott and Chamakh look likely starters, while RVP may not be fit enough to start. They key for me will be getting the right defensive balance in the midfield and maybe, just maybe that could see Frimpong get the nod.