Friendly Match Preview: St. Johnstone v. AFC

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.

New Signings Koch and Obradovic Introduced

New signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic have been introduced to the media at the Emirates Stadium this morning, with the Arsenal manager buoyant about working with the players. Both are likely to feature prominently in Sunday’s friendly at St. Johnstone.

journalist70Press Conference:
In attendance are BBC London, TEAMtalk,
Football 365, The People, & The Guardian.

surman70Arsenal FC:
First Team manager Gray Surman introduces
new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic.

I’m delighted to be able to welcome both Julian and Marko to the club, and I sit here confident that their arrival will be a massive boost to the whole team, and confirm my intent to challenge for the top four this season.

“Marko’s signing is just part of my long-term vision for the future of Arsenal , and I’m confident he can make a big contribution. he was keen to join his international team-mate Matija [Nastasic] here and I thank Matija for helping us push the deal over the line.

“I’m excited to be working with Julian again, he was a player I was keeping tabs on during my time away, and I’m honoured that he stated publicly that he’d jump at the chance to join me here at Arsenal. I have a great friendship with him and it was idea for him to come here and take the next step in his career.

“I understand that I may have ruffled a few feathers with the Dortmund fans, but we made a fair offer and nobody forced their board to accept. The deal went through without a hitch so the Dortmund fans should be pleased that Julian is happy and will be playing football at the highest level next season.

“There is still some room left in the budget, and I have identified one area I’d like to strengthen ahead of the season so it’s about making the right moves if the right players become available. I’m happy with the squad now we’ve made these two key signings.

“Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in action on Sunday.”

Four Friendlies for AFC: Starting in Scotland

Four friendlies have been confirmed for Arsenal ahead of their Premier League opener at Manchester United. Arsenal will begin pre-season at St. Johnstone on Sunday 22 July.

A trip to League Two side Plymouth Argyle follows on Saturday 04 August, before flying to Fortuna Düsseldorf – a club new manager Gray Surman always called his “bogey team” during his time at Dortmund – for a midweek fixture on Wednesday 08 August.

Arsenal’s final friendly will be at The Valley as they make the short trip across London to play Championship side Charlton Athletic on Saturday 11 August.

The Premier League season begins on Saturday 18 August with Arsenal travelling to Old Trafford, before hosting Liverpool on Saturday 25 August. Arsenal will play Chelsea in Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Friday 31 August in the UEFA Super Cup.

Gunners Gazump United in Race For Obradovic

Arsenal have beaten Manchester United to the £19.5m capture of Marko Obradovic from Monaco. United were hot favourites to sign the Serbian striker with the player having held talks at Old Trafford, and Liverpool publicly withdrew their interest, until new Arsenal manager Gray Surman instructed his board to table a bid.

Obradovic has signed a four-year deal on £75k p/w, with additional bonuses applying for goalscoring feats and being named in the Premier League team of the year. The 22-year old revealed on Instagram that he was over the moon to sign for such a popular club.

He scored 34 in 55 appearances during his first three years as a professional at Red Star Belgrade before a £4.8m move to Monaco last season where he scored seven in 31. Capped nine times by Serbia, he has scored twice for his country including in their final FIFA World Cup group match against Spain.

Obradovic will be officially presented at a club press conference on Friday and will surely make an appearance in the friendly at St Johnstone on Sunday afternoon.

Julian Koch Completes Move from Dortmund

Arsenal have announced Julian Koch as their first signing under new manager Gray Surman, who is looking forward to working with the defender after their time together at Borussia Dortmund. The 27-year old German arrives at the Emirates Stadium in a £12.5m move, and has signed a four-year contract.

Koch has been capped twice by Germany, both in 2017: making his début from the bench in a 2-1 friendly win in France, and most recently in November during a 2-0 win over Mexico.

He made 143 league appearances at Dortmund, lifting eight trophies, with an additional 37 appearances made during two loan spells with MSV Duisberg, and was named in Dortmund’s team of the season this year. The right-back has scored just seven goals, but scored in both the Champions League and Europa League in the 2014-15 season.

His arrival has been welcomed by Arsenal supporters, with FanTV that if Koch showed the same loyalty to Arsenal that he had Dortmund, he would have no problems settling in. A club press conference has been arranged for Friday that will include Koch’s introduction to the English media.