A victory on penalties is still a victory, albeit a friendly victory and one in which I certainly think we can learn a bit from, get a bit excited about, but also be a little apprehensive.
Let’s get the painful stuff out of the way first though. Like ripping off the plaster on your knee and being given a Feast ice cream for being a brave boy/girl.
Emery looked like he could name his strongest possible team and aide from the fact that Rambo went off early in the warm up and some of the players who were at the World Cup aren’t ready yet, it looked like he did, with Cech, Mustafi, Kolasinac all getting starts. I mention those players because we’re probably looking at those positions more than anything else and asking the question as to who will start the game next weekend against Man City.
The midfield however is surely set to change and as I watched that first half unfold it felt obvious to me that it was that midfield which looked a little daunted by Chelski and at times we struggled to push between any of the Chelski midfield line. Penetration was limited and that didn’t exactly make for a fun first half it’s fair to say.
What also didn’t help was that our back line looked very familiar in its weaknesses and we saw Bellerin get roasted by a 17-year-old on numerous occasions, a lack of organisation defensively on set pieces, plus when Chelski broke forward in numbers, we had very little pace to cope with them at the back.
The defence is – as we all probably suspected – one of the biggest issues we’re going to face when the season starts. Teams aren’t going to be as sluggish and profligate as Morata was at times yesterday and we need to sort this out at the back of we’re going to be competitive this upcoming season.
Having said that, there were some positives I could take from the game. Guendouzi looks like a player who is comfortable on the ball and is happy to demand from the back four. Arteta used to do that and be that kind of distributor and as the young Frenchman becomes more accustomed to his teammates and Arsenal surroundings, the hope at the club has to be that he irons out those kinks in his game that saw him get dispossessed quite easily on a couple of occasions.
Chelski had a clear plan and it was to press Arsenal high up the pitch. I thought it was Arsenal that would be doing that but it was more visible with those dirty chavs and although it’s terrifying to see as a fan when an opponent presses you so close to your own goal, if the defence can keep the ball and break the press it creates space and then players like Özil profit.
Mesut was quite in the first half but much more lively and demanding of the ball in the second as we chased for an equaliser. His reverse pass to Nelson to whip the ball across goal for Lacazette was sumptuous and I want to see more of the second half Mes this season. When he is pulling the strings he will see space and get some of our attacking players in to it. There will be times when teams sit deeper and his penetration will be vital, but also if teams press us higher up the pitch we’re likely to see him pick up the ball from deeper and have an opportunity to feed the forward players.
It’s exciting times. It feels like we didn’t get the full picture yesterday with how Emery’s team will evolve but I guess that was always going to happen and will probably keep happening as we roll into the new season. Which in a way is a shame that we can’t get a slightly easier set of starting fixtures but I guess it is what it is and we have to deal with that.
There’s one more game that we have to play before City and that’s against Lazio in Sweden. That will be our final dress rehearsal before City this weekend and I don’t know about you but I’m interested to see just how many City players are back and fully fit. Given that Xhaka, Torreira, Lichtsteiner and Monreal haven’t played any minutes yet, I do wonder what City have been doing but I guess we’ll get a good look at them for the Community shield this weekend.
Have a good one Gooners.