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Barnet v Arsenal

Friendly 16 July 2005
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By Gerard Butler

It's fair to say that 10-1 defeats, even if it's only a friendly, aren't generally looked back on with fondness.

But last season, marking the start of the Championship season, may be an obvious exception.

Although the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Jose Antonio Reyes are likely to present a lethal and mesmering attacking threat once more, all eyes will be on the FA Cup winners' midfield, as the Gunners face up to their first game without the talismanic Patrick Vieira. Though only just signed from Bundesliga side Stuttgart, new signing Alexander Hleb, the Belarus midfielder could feature, and the former hub of the German side will provide the Gunners with new creative options.

Now a regular curtain raiser for the Bees, there is no doubt this will be a formidable test, but, as proven last year, an extremely valuable one. No doubt there will also be a chance to see some of the stars waiting in the wings, and familiar to those who watch Arsenal's reserve games at Underhill; with the likes of Justin Hoyte likely to feature, and David Bentley, returning from a loan spell at Norwich, eager to press for a place up front in what could be a pivotal campaign.

Certainly, it should be a busy introduction to Underhill for new Bees keeper Ross Flitney, and it will be interesting to see the impact of the narrowed pitch against such quality opposition. It probably won't be 10-1 this time, but even if it is, don't worry!

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