Arsenal’s pre-season tour begins in Germany on Friday afternoon, as 2. Bundesliga side Nuremberg await the Gunners at the Max-Morlock-Stadion. Mikel Arteta’s side have already put five past Ipswich Town in a behind-closed-doors friendly at London Colney, while the hosts’ last exhibition contest ended in a 2-0 loss to WSG Tirol. Surprisingly, Mikel Arteta will not be the youngest manager on the touchline on Friday night, as Nuremberg prepare for another campaign under the tutelage of 37-year-old Robert Klauss after a bitterly disappointing end to the 2021-22 season.
The dominant force of German football in the 1920s, Nuremberg are now preparing for their fourth consecutive season of second-tier football after finishing in eighth position last term, failing to win any of their final five games in league action. The nine-time Bundesliga champions have made sporadic appearances in the top flight over the past decade and will no doubt have their eyes on a promotion charge for the 2022-23 campaign, but the hosts’ pre-season period has been far from a cakewalk. After claiming a 2-0 success away from home at Viktoria Aschaffenburg, Nuremberg were humbled 3-0 by Bulgarian powerhouses Ludogorets before being shut out in another loss to Austrian side WSG Tirol, so it has been no surprise to see Klauss welcome a host of new attackers to the club in the current transfer window.
Despite the best efforts of Arteta’s young crop throughout the campaign, the Gunners will not be escaping the clutches of Thursday night football just yet, but even returning to the Europa League can be considered a step forward for Arsenal. To miss out on Champions League football after being in the driving seat for so long was of course a bitter disappointment, especially seeing as North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur will now play under the bright lights in the top continental tier, with injuries to the likes of Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu derailing Arsenal’s top-four push.
Technical director Edu has not rested on his laurels this summer, bringing in four new faces to the club already – including marquee signing and new number nine Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City – and one or two more could follow before the window shuts. As mentioned, Arsenal have already taken to the pitch in non-competitive action this term and thrashed Ipswich Town 5-1, with Eddie Nketiah scoring a hat-trick on the day, and Arteta’s side will soon jet off to the USA to meet Orlando City, Chelsea and Everton before the latest edition of the Emirates Cup against Sevilla.
Arsenal will once again be up first in the new Premier League season as they seek revenge on Crystal Palace for last season’s 3-0 thumping at Selhurst Park, and avoiding a repeat of their opening-day 2-0 loss to Brentford last term is an added motivation for Arteta’s side to get off on the right foot this time around. Nuremberg were without goalkeeper Christian Mathenia for the recent friendly loss with Tirol due to illness, but Klauss should otherwise have everyone fit and available for the showdown with the Gunners.
Striker Felix Lohkemper was able to complete 20 minutes of the tie with Tirol after recovering from a hip injury, but new signings Kwadwo Duah and Christoph Daferner will hope to start in Klauss’s front two here. After offloading Kilian Fischer to Wolfsburg for a £2.25m fee, captain Enrico Valentini and new arrival Jan Gyamerah will battle for the right-back spot. Meanwhile, Arsenal have not officially confirmed the list of players to have travelled to Germany, but the likes of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard are seemingly all absent following the international period.
New signings Jesus, Matt Turner and Marquinhos could all make their debuts this week, while Kieran Tierney is back out on the training pitches following his knee operation, but Fabio Vieira is working his way back from a foot injury. Youngsters such as Charlie Patino, Salah Oulad M’Hand and Lino Sousa have all linked up with the first team for their pre-season tour, and the latter could even be handed a start at left-back for the Gunners.
Nuremberg possible starting lineup:
Klaus; Gyamerah, Schindler, Sorensen, Handwerker; Geis, Tempelmann, Nurnberger; Daehli; Duah, Daferner
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, White, Holding, Sousa; Lokonga, Elneny, Smith Rowe; Pepe, Jesus, Nelson