So it appears as though this summer is going well from a results perspective, eh?
A 3-0 victory against Fiorentina, another ‘W’ on the board and some encouraging performances from some players, I have to say.
Take Saka, for example, who looked good in small flashes last season but really impressed in yesterday’s game. He and Nketiah give plenty of cause for optimism ahead of the new season and although Emery and the transfer team are looking at new signings, I’m sure they will be acutely aware of how some of these players need to be given game time at some stage during the season.
Whether that is at Arsenal or on a loan spell remains to be seen, but the way Emery is talking I feel like the group games of the Europa might be added to the list compared to last season, when Emery decided to rotate stronger teams in the early stages as well as the knockout.
We need to be having a serious look at some of these players though. Nketiah popped up with two goals, Willock looked good again with one and although he was playing against the disaster that is Mustafi, Chambers seems to have done alright so far this pre season. If I was in Emery’s position I’d have Sokratis as number one centre half, Holding as two, Chambers as three, Monreal as four and Mustafi as number five in line. That still shows we need another centre half because ideally you want one ahead of Monreal, but I’d be looking at getting as many people ahead of Mustafi in the pecking order as possible. The next few games are about conditioning and of course we need Mustafi fit enough to sell on, but I’d be looking at giving more time to the other players at centre half so we have them ready for Newcastle on Sunday 11th August.
Emery practically confirmed the Saliba deal, which is good, but it still feels like a deal needs to be done soon for another player at centre half. Even if that’s a short term option. Gary Cahill is available on a free so why not give him a one year deal with the view that there are two or three other players ahead of him in the pecking order? Makes sense to me although I’m sure there’s a few people out there who would disagree with me. My view is that there are worse options out there than Cahill and one of them is playing Mustafi more regularly who, let’s face it, seems to have deteriorated even more since the end of last season and that’s a worrying sign indeed. He simply cannot be anywhere near the starting XI against Newcastle. I’m hoping he isn’t.
It’s funny because I’ve been pretty down all summer and yet a few matches of this Arsenal team in these swanky kits and suddenly I feel all optimistic this Sunday morning. I like it. I’d like to have more of it. We’ve had better performances from some of the senior players like Auba and Laca, even Mkhitaryan looks sharper and I spoke about Özil a couple of days ago. It’s good. It’s positive. It’s what you want from pre-season.
We need this against Real Madrid and then in the Emirates Cup next weekend. We need to few that optimism. We also need to be bringing players in too but for right now I’m looking at some of these young players and I’m liking what I see. I thought Reiss Nelson showed a couple of flashes of the player we are all hoping he turns out to be, but we need to see more of it and I wonder if Emery will be thinking that too, because he had a bit of a quieter game I thought.
This next week feels important from a transfer perspective – Saliba should be announced and Ceballos should be done as well I believe – but I think if we can get a good performance again from some of the senior players as well as the younger prospects, we can start to get excited about the new season again.
And I want that. This malaise that had set in since the tail-end of last season wasn’t fun and I want to get back to loving – and obsessing about – The Arsenal again.
Catch you all tomorrow.