So we had the Emirates Cup yesterday in which Lyon eventually beating us from coming two goals behind (one of which looking like it certainly had more than a whiff of offside about it) and as a result there were a few Gooners who sadly couldn’t see a victory on home soil before the important matches start in a couple of weeks.
It’s a shame the home fans there couldn’t go home happy but as I’ve been saying for a while now, these games are all about sussing out who might make an impact next season and there were certainly one or two that I thought would stand a chance based on what I saw.
Certainly Willock is looking good. He looks stronger, happy to receive the ball from deep, looked to win the ball on the front foot and I’m sure his evolution will help Emery because we need to see more rotation in competitions this year and Willock looks like he might be able to be trusted. Certainly on the basis of this summer and pre season so far.
I thought Reiss Nelson did well too. He looks to drive at opponents and didn’t look out of place at The Emirates. His end product and final ball was good half the time and lacking the other bit you’d have to say that overall you can see he can play an important part this upcoming season. Whether or not it’s enough to displace Iwobi on that left hand side – or even Auba if Emery is going to go down that route again – I’m not so sure, but I think he deserves a shot and certainly based on Iwobi’s lack of output last season I’d be looking to give Reiss more game time.
We also got the chance to see both Martinelli – a goal sadly chalked off for offside but did ok with his little spell – as well as Ceballos. And although it was only a 20 minute cameo for the Spaniard, I liked what I saw, because he looked good with the ball at his feet. I thought he looked like somebody who wants to have play run through him, but that he also wants it to be quick too, moving the ball quickly and wanting those quick exchanges of passes through his teammates.
That’s a good sign because too often last season our movement in midfield was too static and predictable so to have a player who we rely on to speed up our play through the middle night just be fundamental for success this upcoming season. If we do end up bringing in Pepe there will be even more reason to be excited and I think that if that happens then the team will look a very different proposition in the middle and final third. The only negative of the day appears to have been the injury to Lacazette, who left the ground with a protective boot on his foot. Let’s just hope it’s not too serious.
Sadly though, little seems to have been done about our defensive third and that is a real worry for me, because both Lyon goals looked avoidable. For the first one Maitland-Niles’ closing down to prevent the cross for Dembele to head in was essentially non-existent. I thought Maitland-Niles did ok yesterday but his primary requirement is to stop those types of balls coming in and his failure to really bother to stop it wound me up a little. I said yesterday I was slightly worried about our right back situation and if we’re going to be reliant on Carl Jenkinson again as an understudy then we have to question why we aren’t in the market for a right back. It’s all very well getting excited about Tierney possibly coming in but if we aren’t balancing our right hand side then it’s going to negatively impact us on both sides of the pitch this season.
For the first goal the marking was also not even remotely tight on Dembele and the second goal was like an amateur dramatic society trying to copy the glory of the old Arsenal back four. Mustafi did the Tony Adams hand raise but it was half-hearted and his tracking back equally so. I thought Sokratis was average at best and Chambers did ok but we know his flaws; this is especially the case when he is up against pacey strikers.
There is a lot of work to be done to get this back four even remotely looking good enough to challenge for the top four this season and at this stage I think it’s too much of a stretch to expect the players currently at the club to be good enough to do it. We need another centre half and even one on loan for a year would be good. There’s talk of Rugani from Juve or maybe we could even get Umtiti from Barca, but at this stage, I’d take anybody fresh who doesn’t have the sins of last season still on them. Sometimes you just need to accept that certain individuals aren’t good enough and I can say that about nearly all of that back four that played at different times yesterday.
Can the club get the deals done this summer though? We need to certainly hope so. If the Pepe deal happens it shows that Raul is savvy enough to get a deal done and that could potentially bode well for the next nine or ten days. But we need to start hearing murmurings now I reckon.
Lots of business still to be done – both inwards and outwards – so let’s hope that Arsenal can do it.
Catch you all tomorrow.