Arsenal’s final dress rehearsal, poor Sead and Iwobi’s pivotal season

I’m at a wedding today. Which is going to be really awks when I put my headphones in at 7pm to watch the Arsenal v Lazio game on Arsenal Player. Oh well, people will organise life-changing events when the last pre season friendly is on…

Tonight will be fascinating I think. It’ll be intriguing because it’s the last game before we play City next weekend and I reckon we’ll pretty much see Emery’s hand shown with his selection for the first game. He’d be mad not to. It’s his last chance so mass substitutions are just going to mean that certain players don’t get the 90 minutes that their body needs for that final bit of conditioning ahead of the kick off.

So I’m really up for this game this evening.

It’s also going to be good to see Lichtsteiner and Torreira in the side and see how they perform. The latter has a lot of expectations on his head but he’s just joined a new club, in an unfamiliar country, so I think we should all be tempering our excitement. But if he snaps in to one or two tackles then he’ll instantly be a hero to a few fans watching so I suspect we might see him get a bit stuck in today.

What I also want to see more of is a higher press. I haven’t seen it as much as I wanted to against Chelski and it was that lot from West London who pushed up higher on the pitch during the game, so I hope that we get a better intention from Arsenal as to what the press is from them.

We spoke a little bit about it on the show last night – LoveSport every Wednesday from 7pm until 8.30pm if you ever fancy tuning in – and one of the things we picked up on was that perhaps Emery is still taking a while to adapt the players to his philosophy. If you think about it Chelski change their coach every couple of seasons, so the players are more used to adapting styles, where as the Arsenal players will have been at the club for years with the same man in charge. It means it might take a while to change approach.

We don’t have all season though so I just hope I see a slightly different Arsenal to the one that started a little sluggishly against Chelski.

As for Lazio, well, I know nothing about them and quite frankly couldn’t care about how they play because this is ultimately a friendly and what we’re all looking at is signs that we can actually do something special this season.

Away from the actual game itself we had the classic Arsenal situation of another injury to curtail our start to the season. Poor old Sead Kolasinac. It was confirmed yesterday that he’ll be out for eight to 10 weeks and at a time when he was looking like Emery might give him the chance to display Monreal, we find ourselves a man light in defence, which will mean Nacho starts the season.

You have to feel sorry for the big Bosnian, but we have a good left back who was probably going to start anyway, plus the fact that Maitland-Niles got minutes in that position last season at least means we have cover. It’s a real shame but as usual this sort of sh*t always happens to us so what else should we expect.

Ramsey is also out but that sounds like a short term thing. Cross everything he signs a new deal and then is fit for next weekend.

And finally, to Alex Iwobi, who signed a new deal yesterday. This one certainly came as a surprise to me but perhaps it shouldn’t. Emery has clearly had words with certain players and given them very real assurances about their future at the club. Maitland-Niles is apparently a favourite of his, Chambers signed a new deal a few weeks back, now ‘Wobes’ and you have to assume that the manager has plans to give him plenty of game time.

The question is whether or not we’re going to see a guy whose finishing is woeful and who drives himself down blind alleys every five minutes on the pitch.

Iwobi stagnated last season and was certainly a frustrating player for us all to watch. He’s getting to an age where you can’t really call it ‘raw’ any more and the cynic in me wonders if he’s been given this deal to maintain some sort of market value for next summer if he doesn’t hit it off. That would certainly make sense to me.

So it’s really just up to him – as well as the likes of Hector Bellerin – that last season was just the funk of a dying empire that stunted their development. This season they have no such excuse and so let’s just wish them well and hope we see the best of them in the months and years to come.

And with that, dear friends, I take my leave. Laters.

About the Author:

Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.

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