Final pre season friendly out of the way and, as probably is to be expected, we went to the Nou Camp and came back with a defeat. It’s a familiar thing that we’ve seen before so there won’t be too many surprises with that and hey, I’ve spent all summer saying that the results from these friendlies are irrelevant anyway, but you still want to see or hear about decent performances from some of the Arsenal players out there in Catalonia.
Another great finish from Aubameyang can be added to pre season and the fact he’s bagging in goals suggests he’ll start this season in a bit of form. With Lacazette still not fit after his Emirates Cup injury, we need a fully fit and firing Auba when we head up to Newcastle next weekend. It also seems we got another impressive display from Willock and that is certainly a positive I think we should take from the season. The kid has stepped up and I’m sure we’re all hoping he continues to improve and continues to get chances with the first team this season.
But for every good Willock performance it seems like we’ve had two average or poor performances. I didn’t watch the game as I was flying back from Amsterdam for the duration, but I’ve seen the goals and whilst Auba’s shows the Rolls Royce forward we know we’ve got, the two we conceded serve to highlight just how poor we are at the back.
By the sounds of it Maitland-Niles had a decent enough game in the main, but his lackadaisical and lethargic pass back to Leno that saw the equaliser for the goal was classically, comically, Arsenal at their very worse. Lack of communication, not paying attention to the position of the goalkeeper, it’s all a negative on Maitland-Nile’s part. People get on Mustafi’s case because his game is littered with errors, but Mustafi is a player who is decent aside from the regularity of his blunders which cost us big (think Zaha’s goal at the Emirates last season). When you make big mistakes that cost your team dearly, people remember that and if that happens regularly in your game, it’s what sets you apart from the very best because they minimise those mistakes.
Mainland-Niles has a mistake or two in his game and that is starting to cause issues because he’s been in and around the first team for a couple of years now so you hope that he’s ironing these kinks out. Failure to do that over the next 18months and I wonder if he’ll ever make the true step up we’re all hoping for.
As for the second goal, well, that too was your archetypal Arsenal defensive ‘switch’ off because if you’re going to give Luis Suarez time and space in the box then you’re going to get punished. The ball over the top saw Mustafi not having a clue where Suarez was, but he wasn’t the main culprit, because Calum Chambers has clear line of sight on the striker. Yet he just watched as Suarez darted in and flicked the ball into the goal. It was a really sloppy one to concede and from a player whom many of us are crossing our fingers over that he comes good in central defence this summer and then season, situations like this do make you wonder, or should I say ‘worried’.
It’s time we saw Chambers step up and I’m just praying that’s next weekend because as it stands it’s Sokratis and Mustafi who are playing as a two this coming Sunday and as far as many Arsenal fans will be concerned that’s a recipe for disaster.
Unless of course the club can do a deal within the next four days because as it stands it’s not looking likely. We’ve not heard any solid rumours about a specific individual and that worries me because normally that sort of stuff has been filtering through the gossip channels by now. Most of the journos out there are linking us with some more obvious names but as it stands they’re not doing it with too much gusto. Which to me suggests that there’s not been too much of a breakthrough in relation to the central defensive issues we’ve got.
I just hope that there is some serious swanning going on i.e. not a lot on the surface but furious paddling underneath the water line.
Let’s see how the next few days pan out.