Arsenal (+150) vs MLS All-Star team (+154), Draw (+240)
Unlike the other leagues in the United States, the MLS doesn’t have an All-Star game between conferences. Instead they pit the best players in the league against an average team from Europe, in the middle of their preseason. This year, the MLS All-Stars take on Arsenal FC, this Thursday night at the Avaya Stadium, in San Jose (7:30 PM Eastern).
Despite there being little interest in the MLS across the pond, the Gunners will recognize a few of the men dressing for the All-Stars. Andrea Pirlo will lead the midfield for the All-Stars. A two-time Champions League winner who is known to be one of the best technical players on the planet, Pirlo hasn’t had a great season, as he adjusts to the game in America, but he makes this squad on the strength of his name alone.
Pirlo will be joined by his ex-teammate Ricardo Kaka, who played with him at AC Milan and won a Champions League title in 2007. David Villa, who is Pirlo’s current teammate, will be around as well, and of course, Didier Drogba, a striker who played against Arsenal for about a decade and usually gave them hell.
Arsenal is coming off a 1-1 draw against RC Lens in their only friendly game they have played this season. The front office is trying to boost the team with some additions, but they whiffed trying to add striker Gonzalo Higuain, who joined Juventus from Napoles. As well, they are still battling to get Alexandre Lacazette, but the problem is Lyon is asking a heavy price for him.
The Gunners traveled to American soil without Frenchmen Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud, as well as Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey; all four of them could miss the season opener due to their summer participation in the Euro.
It will be a nice chance for midfielder Joel Campbell to show he belongs on this team. Campbell consistently plays well with Costa Rica in international play, but hasn’t been able to produce at the same level with Arsenal.
Since the game witched to the All-Stars vs. guest format in 2005, the MLS Stars are 7-1-3. Last season the MLS beat Tottenham by a 2-1 score.
Pick: MLS All-Stars (+154).
(Photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford, United Kingdom (Olivier Giroud) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)