For the past two weeks Arsenal have been in the heart of Asia for the first leg of their pre-season friendlies. The team have spent their time training and meeting fans from across the globe (including this fella) in order to increase the club's visibility worldwide. The four games played all ended in victory for the Gunners: a 7-0 demolition of the Indonesia Dream Team and a 7-1 rout of Vietnam, followed by the more modest results of a 3-1 win over Wenger's old team Nagoya Grampus before edging past Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 on Monday.
Arsenal 19-3 Asia. Not a bad aggregate. These were of course all teams that should have posed no real threat but on the whole Wenger will be pleased with the energy and determination the team has shown in these fixtures. The Emirates Cup begins on Saturday and this will be a more solid test of how the team will look in the new season, with tougher competition coming from Napoli and Galatasaray before a final friendly against Manchester City.
Throughout their tour the Arsenal players have largely looked fit and disciplined and some great attacking football has been exhibited by both established names such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxelade-Chamberlain as well as youngsters hoping to get a chance in the first team this year including Chuba Akpom and Serge Gnabry. Olivier Giroud looks like he is striving to hit the ground running this August and was top scorer of the tour with a total of six goals. Akpom gave him a run for his money, notching four goals along the way.
Selection-wise it seems as though Wenger will start the season with Fabianski, who started three of the four games, as his first choice keeper. The need to add a central defender to the squad has been highlighted by the injury to Thomas Vermaelen (who Wenger has insisted will remain club captain next term despite falling behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the pecking order).
Pre-season is not always an accurate indicator of how the season will pan out but Arsenal fans will be pleased to hear that Manchester United have so far lost two, drawn one and won just one of their own July fixtures. City have also lost two of their initial games. Arsenal also in theory have an easier start to the season than most, not having to face either Manchester side or Chelsea before November.
The transfer window continues to drag on and still nothing exciting looks to be heading Arsenal's way. I read an interesting blog about on this situation this morning which suggested that Arsenal need a boardroom shake-up in order to allow the club to take bolder leaps in the transfer market. Either way, though it would not be the end of the world to start the campaign with this current squad, a few injuries in the opening months could seriously damage Arsenal's season if they don't make one or two signings. On the pitch then things are looking good whilst off it speculation remains the main ingredient.
There are three weeks until the Gunners kick of their 88th consecutive season in the top flight of English football. Let's hope it's a good one.