Happy Friday Gooners.

We have a match to digest! Whoop!

Been a long time coming, eh?

Too long it feels. The World Cup was good, but it was kind of like having a Quorn chilli-con-carne. It’s nice, you can spice it up to remove the fact it’s not mince but ultimately, it’s not mince. So not the same.

But Arsenal is Arsenal and the proper pre season friendlies started yesterday with a 1-1 draw to Atletico Madrid.

It’s a bit of a difficult one for me to proper digest right now because of the timings of the games that has meant I’ve had to record the match for watching this weekend, but by the sounds of it, there were certainly some positives to take fro. The game.

Emile Smith-Rowe’s top corner banger for one. He’s a kid who seems to be this year’s Reine-Adelaide, Zelalem, Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, etc, etc. He’s getting minutes, he’s impressing and for Unai Emery, he’s clearly one he’s got his eye on. Again as I said I’ve not really watched too much but by the sounds of it he doesn’t have too much fear, travels well with the ball at his feet and can spot a pass.

Not that he’ll see too much action in the first team this season but I suspect he’ll be given a shot in Europe and also in the League Cup. For him and Reiss Nelson – also continuing to impress – the season could be an exciting one as they start to potentially force their way in to the managers thinking. Good on ’em.

I also watched a clips breakdown of Guendouzi and I have to say I was impressed. It looked like he was given the screening job just in front of the back four and from the highlights reel I’ve seen he looked composed in possession, happy to distribute the ball short and long distances, but also always showing willing to receive it from his defenders. That’s a good sign. If you think about the attacking prowess we have and the fact that teams pressed us higher last season because they knew we had errors in our game, seeing a player who can cope under pressure deeper in our own half is good, so hopefully he can build on that.

Of course it was only a fitness exercise and so little can be read in to it, which is why I’m tempering the praise for the younger players whilst also at the same time not getting too hung up on how easily Rob Holding was turned for Atletico’s goal. Rustiness is always going to be a factor in these types of games but certainly if he wants to make his way into the main two centre back pairings then we’ll need to see a bit more concentration by Holding in future.

He’s a talented footballer though and so I am not really too concerned at this moment in time.

It was two different XIs practically by the end of the game and so I don’t even think we’ve really got an indication as to who is in the managers mind for City. I suspect it will be similar on Saturday against PSG but as we get closer to the start of the season I suspect we’ll start to see a more settled line up, particularly against Lazio in Sweden, which is our last friendly and probably will be an opportunity to see the real ‘ Emery’s Arsenal ‘.

For now it’s just nice to have something to talk about and as I watch both games over the next few days I’ll be hoping to start to see the forming of this ‘high press’ that has become so emblematic of an Emery Football team.

Righto, that’s me done, so I’ll get a wriggle on and get meself to work.

Adios amigos.