Victory in the ‘Jose Treble’ cup assured yesterday, our second trophy of pre season and a cast iron GUARANTEE that we will win the league, league cup, FA Cup and Europa League, all without dropping any points or conceding any goals.
Before the game we were all clear that you can’t read too much in to this. After the game Arsène even said it was “an encouragement and nothing more than that” but during it you can see the players wanted to win and so to see that intensity whilst on the field was good for me in terms of the pre preparation.
Even though it was a penalty shootout victory – one in which Petr Cech still hasn’t actually ‘saved’ a penalty yet – it was still good to see Arsenal at Wembley and let’s hope they can continue that form going in to the next game there which will be against that horrible lot from round the corner.
The game itself was an exercise in squad rotation and Arsenal once again gave a little more rotation than Chelski did. Özil, Alexis and Ramsey didn’t make the squad due to slight knocks or not being 100% ready yet – a very Arsenal thing to have one week before the season starts – and Koscielny was left out completely as the manager went with a defensive line up more likely to start the season given his suspension.
Oddly, Kolasinac was on the bench with the Ox playing wing back on the left, whilst Elneny was the busy man alongside Xhaka covering the ground as the Swiss distributed the ball to all corners of the pitch. Iwobi and Welbeck flanked Lacazette and I found myself being oddly impressed by a few of the players from very early on in the game.
Iwobi was impressive I thought and there’s something about his drive and energy that I’ve liked this summer. He seems to me more purposeful and efficient with the ball when he’s going forward and if he can continue the form he’s shown so far then he will be a very valuable asset this season.
Playing out of position on the left, I was also very impressed with The Ox and every time I see him play at the moment he looks to get better and better, which is making me more worried that we’re going to be silly and lose him. The deal to keep him needs to be done. And quick. He was leaving Moses et al for dead at times and his distribution of the ball has got better too. We need to keep him. It’s an essential.
In defence we looked solid enough, until the BFG injury and shortly after that we had Kolasinac back on the pitch. What a debut that was, eh? Playing out of his favourite position, but still able to support the central defenders well, he also capped off his official debut with a decent header to bring us level after Moses had scored against us early in the second half. He looks more impressive with each game and next Friday he’s sure to start.
Midfield had Xhaka pulling all the strings and I thought he was impressive, whilst Welbeck also showed his industry, if not quite end product. I thought Lacazette was quiet though. He showed a flash of brilliance in a confined space to hit the post, but I am starting to wonder if Wenger should be gradually easing him in like he did with Xhaka last season, because we need to hit the ground running from Friday next week against Leicester and I’d be very tempted to start Ollie G in that game, as well as the one away to Stoke the following week.
What’s slightly concerning though, although not majorly worrying, is that we don’t seem to have settled on a first XI with less than a week to go before the new season starts. We have experimented with different players across the entire team and yesterday was the same. Is that a good thing? Maybe. But I would have preferred to see a stand out first XI before the actual start of the Premier League season.
Who knows – this mini victory might prove enough of a morale boost to carry us over the line against Leicester and the traditional bogey team of Stoke, but by the time we play Liverpool away we need to have a settled XI I feel, which will need to be ready to improve on the debacle that was last season at Anfield.
The win yesterday had good signs though, so let’s be pleased that we head in to the new season having won that comp, with the opportunity to start the season well for a change (check our opening day results – not been too great historically!).
Catch you all tomorrow.