So we have ourselves enough leaked news and people (like the Lille chairman) talking about Nicolas Pepe’s move to The Arsenal, that we know it’s happening, we just haven’t had it confirmed yet.
No doubt the game against Angers was an overriding factor in the announcement not happening. Arsenal had enough stuff to talk about yesterday that waiting 24 hours longer doesn’t really impact anyone I guess. Well, except us transfer salivating fans who keep refreshing our social media feeds whilst at work trying to write planning and strategy documents, but there you go…
I’m ok with it not being announced yet though…really I am…I mean it’s not like we’ve never been on the verge of supposedly signing someone only for them to turn up somewhere else, is it?
Of course I’m being a little tongue in cheek there, so let’s turn our attention to last nights game against a Jeff Reine-Adelaide motivated Angers in France, celebrating their centenary. It seemed a friendly enough affair and ‘The Jeff’ was clearly keen to impress his old team, but it was the youthful Arsenal line up I was more interested in, so the first half was an intrigue and then slightly disappointing if I’m honest.
I/we could really have done with Zech Medley looking an absolute beast at centre half but that certainly didn’t happen. He was slow for the Angers goal and got caught out a couple of times during the match against an admittedly strongest XI that Angers had. He looked as raw as a 19-year-Old probably should and whilst I don’t want to chastise the lad too much, he’s clearly not ready for the first team and that’s a shame because we could really do with a centre half to smash through the youth ranks a la Tony Adams right now. We have Holding, we’re gonna have Saliba, but a third youth team prospect coming through would be great.
It won’t be Bielik as he’s off to Derby for £10million. That’s a good deal for us and good for him to get regular minutes. I doubt the club will have inserted a buyback but that would be a sensible move if he explodes at Derby and this time next season is on everyone’s lips. But £10million in this window would be handy and if the Mustafi rumours are true then we’ve got a bit more in the coffers to look for a decent centre half option.
As for the rest of the performances last night, it was quite clear in the difference between youth and the first team and that showed, because in the second half of the game we started to look a little more dominant, we controlled possession a bit more and looked like we were the ones who were going to score that second goal, after Reiss Nelson had drawn us level to tap in from short range.
I didn’t really think any of those players starting the game yesterday were particularly sensational but I guess that’s what happens when you load up a team full of inexperience. Even blending the team with youth and experience is better for those younger players because they probably feel a little more comfortable.
Heck, it’s a friendly though, so ultimately it doesn’t matter, because it’s probably Unai’s best opportunity just before the start of the season and in a game which there’s very little negative that can come out of it. You could that by the way Nelson just kind of walked away after scoring his goal yesterday. Maybe he’s just cheesed off that Pepe is going to be taking another spot away from him but of all players he should be holy because Pepe players on the right cutting in with his left, so perhaps Unai will be looking at Nelson doing the same on the left for tunes this season?
I hope so. I really rate Nelson and I’d love for him to jump ahead of Iwobi in the pecking order.
It was also good to see Auba getting one of his trademark ‘sitters’ missed and out of his system now. What we all must have learned by now is that whilst 80-90% of the time he’s a guy who is clinical in front of goal, he still has it in his game to miss tap ins, which is weird given just how good it is. That Chelski game from last season still haunts me, so let alone what must play on his mind, because that ain’t fun at all.
So yeah, get it all out of yer system now, Auba.
There’s not really much else to say about yesterday’s game though. It was weird because it was almost like a friendly of a friendly type match because it was to celebrate Angers’ 100 years. It didn’t even feel to me as though it was a game in which players are as up for as, say, the game against Lyon last weekend. So perhaps that had an impact. But we play Barcelona at the weekend on Sunday and I suspect that will be a stronger looking Arsenal XI and maybe they’ll even be a certain Ivorian that might be present or make the bench. Possibly a little too early but let’s wait and see what happens today before we start making any more assumptions!
And on that note it’s time for me to take my leave I reckon. Laters peeps.