Suarez. A lack of signings. Necessary departures. No replacements. Money just sitting in the bank. Arsenal's preseason has been well-documented, and frankly I'm bored and fed up about it. While Sunday isn't quite the start of the season for the Gunners, they do face up to a Premier League team in a friendly with Manchester City, so it will finally feel like we're watching a bit of meaningful action on the pitch.
The game in Helsinki could end up giving no indication at all of where the team is ahead of the new season, but the reality is that Arsenal will be facing their toughest test of preseason and will be able to treat the game like a regular match day.
-Henry: 'No chance' Suarez will be sold
Hopefully, Arsene Wenger will pick a starting XI that is almost identical to the one he intends to start with against Aston Villa Aug. 17. The only potential starter who might feature from the bench is Santi Cazorla, as his preparation is a few weeks behind the others due to the Confederations Cup. Otherwise, the back four essentially picks itself due to injuries and the general lack of depth in the squad's defence.
The midfield will be interesting, as most would expect Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere to start. But Aaron Ramsey has featured a lot in preseason and won't want to miss out after a good end to the previous campaign. A start for Tomas Rosicky should also be given serious consideration.
In the front three, I expect Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski to start. For all the rumours, these three are set to take on the bulk of Arsenal's scoring burden in the coming season, so the Manchester City game will be a good opportunity to ease some fans' fears.
Going up against Manchester City will provide Arsenal with a rather stark contrast when comparing the way the clubs have done transfer business this summer. With the likes of Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic all in the mix for City, Arsenal can only look on with some envy that their attempts to make a marquee signing are yet to come to fruition. Arsenal are clearly inexperienced at getting these deals done, and the comparison with City shows that.
Navas even went to the Manchester club when they hadn't finalised their new manager. This City team could give Arsenal a blast of cold reality in Helsinki that a summer of transfer dithering will cost them when the season starts.
Of course any preparation in this game could all be irrelevant should numerous players come back from international duty with injuries from the forthcoming midweek friendlies. The national teams don't intend for players to get injured, and I understand that national coaches want to have some time to prepare for qualifiers in September, but this set of friendlies just before the season starts is almost more annoying than the Suarez, Rooney and Bale stories put together.
Hopefully Arsenal and Manchester City both treat Saturday's game as close to a competitive one as possible -- I need to watch a serious game to detract from the constant stream of transfer stories about the same players. While I don't think Arsenal have done anything wrong in their pursuit of Luis Suarez, there's no moral high ground for any of the parties involved in the potential deal. I'm bored of trying to convince myself otherwise. I'm bored of Brendan Rodgers' stream of mundane statements about a player who obviously wants to go.
I thought this summer would be better without a major departure or an international tournament to get in the way of doing dealings early and being ready for the season. Clearly I was wrong. I just want to watch the Arsenal play some meaningful football now and stop having to worry about who is and isn't on the squad. Hopefully the Manchester City game will be a chance for that to happen.