So it turns out there was a bit of football played again yesterday, as we entertained Brentford at an empty Emirates bowl and unfortunately lost 3-2, with the Bees bagging a goal in the last couple of minutes to see off the game.
It was all a bit cloak and dagger until the last minute, when noises started trickling through that a game was being played around mid-afternoon, which I don’t really have a problem with to be honest, because it’s not like these friendlies have any kind of meaningful consequence other than the manager testing and trying things out ahead of the proper restart in six days time. Much like the hammering of Charlton doesn’t mean anything, this game gives me plenty of ‘meh’ feelings, so people who went on to Twitter to respond to Charles Watts’ tweet about the fact the game was played and we lost, so they could go potty, should probably take some kind of chill pills. Arteta rotated his team, tried things like Saka in midfield apparently, plus he would have expected his players not to go full throttle for fear of injuries.
And that’s a very real fear at this stage because players have had three months away, having also done three quarters of a season, and it is at times like this that players can over stretch themselves in getting to a ball, or when trying to block a shot, which could end up with a pulled muscle that makes them unavailable for the restart. So I for one am not too worried that we lost the game.
When you look at the goals too, you could tell it was a friendly, because Lacazette doing keepy-ups on the edge of his box doesn’t happen in a proper game. Yes, we can all cringe at how shoddy our defence is and yes, they are all capable of monumental brain farts. But I just don’t see that as a real scenario in a game that ‘matters’. The same can be said for David Luiz when he tries to flick the ball over a midfielders head near the halfway line. Actually, that probably is more likely, but the Brazilian has been much better under Arteta and we’ve seen him make less and less clown-like decisions since Arteta took over so I’m hoping that we can just chalk that particular concession of the football – which led to a Brentford goal – as something that is the result of playing in a friendly game designed only for fitness.
I did like Willock’s finish though and seeing him sweep the ball in after an excellent run from Hector is a positive I’m certainly taking from the game. He scored an impressive finish from just inside the box against Charlton too and I wonder if his overall game has impressed Arteta in these last two matches. Let’s not forget that Willock looked particularly impressive at the start of this season before fading away, which is perhaps understandable for a young player like he is when making such a step up to the first team. But having now had three months off and being ready and raring to go for the restart, maybe he’s a playing we should be looking at to get game time? Maybe this break will suit players like him and Maitland-Niles, who also played in midfield yesterday and perhaps has made up with Arteta enough to get the opportunity to play? We won’t have long to find out.
I also like Lacazette’s finish inside the box, but he did fluff a good one from a Maitland-Niles knockdown in the second half and also missed a header towards the end after we’d conceded in the last couple of minutes. Whether or not Arteta sticks with him up top will be interesting because although he’s missed some chances he’s still scored in both friendlies. But he just doesn’t do it away from home and so I wonder if that will play on the managers mind?
There’s little else to talk about from yesterday other than for me to give a little plug for our podcast that we’ve just started up again. After doing the GunnersTown radio show for just over a year, we’ve moved it to a short-format 30 minute show that we’re going to release each week. We recorded the first one last night and it was good fun to get Dave and Charlie together so we could talk all things football and, specifically, all things Arsenal. We talked Project Restart, the Man City game, as well as some thoughts on Partey and potential news that Aubameyang might be signing. It was a good chat and you can get more on the show here – https://www.gunnerstown.com/radio/
That’s all from me folks – you make sure you have a good one and i’ll catch you in the morrow.