Arsenal fans eagerly await their first viewing of new manager Gray Surman in the dugout during tomorrow’s friendly at St. Johnstone. With the exception of Wojciech Szczesny, a full squad is available including new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic as well as World Cup winners Santi Cazorla and Rubén Pardo.
Szczesny has returned to training after the broken ankle he sustained during Arsenal’s final match of last season, but Surman is unlikely to rush him back into action. Much to the new manager’s annoyance, the club are unable to call upon backup ‘keeper Josh Vickers.
Vickers started a season-long loan at Fleetwood Town which was signed-off while David Moyes was still at Arsenal, and a fee involved in the deal means he cannot be recalled. 18-year old Johann Tréguer may have to deputise between the posts.
It’s anticipated that Surman will play a separate XI in each half, with a youngster or two travelling with the squad up to Scotland as he’ll take a look at as many players as possible in his first opportunity. Weather in Perth for the match is predicted to be gusty, 17°C.
St. Johnstone v. Arsenal
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Sunday 22 July 2018
St. Johnstone are about to start their second campaign back in the second-tier, after finishing bottom of the Scottish Premiership in 2017 before a disappointing 8th place finish in the Championship last season. They’ve bounced between the top two flights in recent years, having experienced promotion or relegation five times in the last 20 years.
None of the current first-team squad has won a senior international cap, though last season’s Supporters’ Player of the Year – ex-Swansea centre-back Scott Tancock – made 22 appearances for Wales U21s. Defender Ben Hodges and striker Martyn Newton® have joined The Saints on loan for the season from Aston Villa and Newcastle respectively.
McDiarmid Park has been the club’s home since 1989 and was the first purpose-built all-seater stadium constructed in the United Kingdom. Located between the Rivers Tay and Almond in the city of Perth, the ground holds just shy of 11,000. Tomorrow will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides, and will be overseen by referee David O’Leary.