So whilst some of the players have been away on international duty this weekend, the club continued its preparations for the upcoming season with a friendly against Aston Villa, which would have been far more palatable to watch than having to sit through the England game. But it wasn’t televised so we had to make do with the internationals instead.
What we do know from some of the pictures that were taken is that Mesut Özil was in the team, as was Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Holding, Elneny, Willian, Saliba, etc, all got some important minutes under their belts. That’s useful to know because up until this point the question mark for me was how ready some of these players will be. Granted there hasn’t been much time between the two seasons we’re in between, but there has still been a period of time in which players haven’t been training and so the worry is that a little bit of rust would have set in.
So to see some of those players out there gives me hope that we’ll see a more rounded and ready a Arsenal team at Craven Cottage next weekend. Not literally rounded, though!
I was surprised to see Ceballos in there. He’s supposed to be in self isolation so I’m not sure how the club have managed to avoid government rules there, unless he’s already been in the UK for a couple of weeks? I’m not sure he has because I’m sure I’ve seen pictures and videos of him in Spain. So quite how the club have swung it I’m not sure. If he’s been allowed to play for the club in a friendly yesterday though then surely he’s available for selection next weekend? If so that’s a big bonus for us and hopefully Xhaka and Ceballos can pick up where they left off in terms of their midfield partnership for that first game of the season.
The other interesting thing about yesterday – because the result (a 3-2 defeat) is relatively worthless – was that Özil was back in the fold. He’s been pictured on a football pitch and given that this was an opportunity to play a team that might resemble the first team playing next weekend, seeing him on the pitch does make me wonder if the manager has decided that he’s back in the fray for a place in the first XI next season?
I’ve always been an Özil fan, I think at his best he was majestic for us, but we haven’t seen that nearly enough in recent years and to be honest with you i’ve just become sick and tired of all of the circus around him. Possibly like you I’ve just wanted him gone so we can close that chapter in the history of the club but it’s clear he’s not going, so Arteta might as well make him match fit by playing him. We moved on without Özil in the team after the restart last season and we still won the FA Cup, but he’s still an asset and if he has some use this season then so be it, we might as well use him. He might not be as integral to our play as he was once upon a time, but he looks to still be here, available for selection and so if Arteta needs something from the bench then maybe he can be there.
He’s such a polarising character that I’m sure you’re either reading this and rolling your eyes at me, maybe even questioning whether you’ll bother reading my random daily Arsenal thoughts in future, but for me it never makes sense to cut your nose off to spite your face and so we should just get every player at the club ready, willing and able to contribute for the new season.
It’s the same with Guendouzi. He has got minutes under his belt with the French Under-21s and I think he played the full 90 so from a fitness point of view he should be fine. I just hope that he and Arteta have managed to patch up the relationship. The manager talked about everyone having a clean slate and Guendouzi is a guy who should be available for us if we can’t find a buyer. But unlike Özil who has repeatedly said he wants to stay and he wants to play, Guendouzi has been very quiet, which makes me wonder whether he’ll be the problem. Unless he’s willing to meet Arteta halfway in terms of coming to some kind of agreement on a way forward, then he’ll most likely be rotting in the reserves this season, as the footballing saying goes.
Of course all of this speculation around players playing in friendlies could all be nonsense. After all we know Elneny is available for transfer and he’s played what feels like every minute of these pre season friendlies. Arteta will no doubt love his energy and work rate, but he’s still such a limited player, so I hope we can move him on.
Holding also started and we all know he’s rumoured to be attracting the interest of clubs like Leeds and Newcastle. So again, it could just be that the players are being selected to keep them fit enough and also showing clubs that they’re in decent condition.
That’s me done for the day I think. There’s only so much waffle you can probably take from a game in which we haven’t seen and doesn’t really matter too much in the grand scheme of things. But we’re nearly back with the Premier League proper and as usual the excitement is building in my head.
Catch you all tomorrow.