Morning folks. Holy moly, we actually have A REAL LIFE ARSENAL MATCH TO TALK ABOUT!

Well, sure, it was a friendly. But it was an Arsenal match and we did get to see some of the first teamers strut their stuff out in Dubai. Sadly I was working and then had a family event straight after work, so wasn’t able to see it live. I am also not paying £5.99 or £9.99 to watch a friendly match streamed live, thank you very much. But I have caught up on the goals, some of the highlights (like Marquinhos’ rasping shot which cannoned off the bar), plus I’ve looked at some of the stats, so I think I have a decent idea on what went down – if not the pieces in between that stitches together any post match thoughts on a game like this.

But by all accounts, Arsenal appear – on an admittedly small sample size – to be picking up where we left off by giving Alexandre Lacazette’s Lyon a good seeing too in the Middle East. On the ‘Waddler’ playing up front for them, it must have been nice to be reunited and by all accounts he seems a good guy, but seeing him losing the ball in the build up to the Nketiah ball brought back some memories. “Ah yes, Laca walking in to traffic and then his team getting punished, those were the days” I thought to myself when I saw that passage of play. The goal itself was a very nice one indeed with us hunting in packs and pressing well to dispossess the Frenchman, then moving it very quickly from back to front before Vieira and Eddie found themselves in behind. Great bit of interplay and good for Eddie to get on the scoresheet. We need to build up him so that he’s bagging goals ideally every friendly game in this mini pre season, because the Gabriel Jesus news – something Mikel spoke about afterwards – was a big blow and Eddie is going to need to deliver something special in order to take up the mantle and have us perform as consistently good as we were from before the World Cup.

Speaking of Gabriel’s, it was a nice finish for Gabriel Magalhaes from a corner that set us off within 20 minutes and given that all of our three goals came within the first half, it shows just how good we’re getting at scoring early. That is often so important for the psychology of a football match and it is something that we’ve been able to do a lot this season and also last season. We’ve also been very good from corners and Nicholas Jover, the set piece dude, needs to take some almighty praise for how dangerous we are and organised in defence and attack this season and for parts of last season. I have a genuine belief these days that when we get set pieces – specifically corners – that we stand a chance of bagging goals. The best teams in any country in any professional football league are always those that have a multitude of ways in which they can score goals. We have that by the looks of our side and once again yesterday Gabriel proved how valuable he can be in both boxes.

It was a good looking side that started, considering all the absentees of normal first team players, with a raft of changes for the younger players in the second half. But that’s a good thing because those squad players showed that they are all buying in and looking sharp for the first bit of the game they played. Don’t get me wrong though, I still don’t want to see Cedric rocking up at West Ham, nor Elneny and Holding, because I want the real first team there and raring to go. But at least these players look like they’re raring to go and by the looks of it we played some nice football too. Including Fabio Vieira, who was one of those guys I’d wondered last month whether this mini pre season would be one of the people this period would benefit from the most. Again, small sample size I know, but it looks like we have ourselves a guy who is finding some form at the right time and with a proper bit of training behind him, perhaps he can impress in the second half of the season. His goal was a superb finish, but the build up play from the team was really good too, particularly Odegaard’s flick I liked. It was a small part of the move but it just showed the awareness of the player to be able to know and see that he had an overlapping guy on the right who was joining the play, then the one touch football in and around the Lyon box was good before Vieira’s great strike. I think he’s going to become some player for us you know. I hope so, for sure, but little signs like that, the Brentford game, are pockets of information we’re getting to suggest that he can have a big impact for Arsenal. And perhaps this season too, which is important because as we’ve all already talked about online and I have on this blog already in the last week, we need to have other players stepping up and delivering the outputs that Gabriel Jesus won’t be able to deliver for us for a fair few months now.

All in all it looks like a game in which we can certainly be happy about. Arteta seemed it yesterday, although he was his usual self on returns for players. Emile Smith Rowe, for example, didn’t feature yesterday and Arteta said that he’s now in his rehab phase and we’re hoping to see him “in the next few weeks”. It’s frustrating because I was hoping that his return could coincide with the resumption of the season, but if we’re on 9th December now and there are 17 days until our next game – about two-and-a-half weeks – then unless he’s already starting to get minutes in his legs now, I don’t think he’ll be ready for Boxing Day. If we might see him in the next two weeks it will probably be as a sub at best and that suggests that any hope of him being good to play from the start over Christmas are, perhaps, a quite unlikely.

I get it though; they want to make sure he doesn’t break down and rush him back. That’s understandable. It’s just frustrating, because it feels like we’ve already had to deal with a few bumps and bruises already this season and we’re about to go in to an intense period after the World Cup, that could result in even more.

That’s it from me today. Have a good Friday. We’ve got the quarter finals on today and tomorrow and that’ll be Croatia Brazil and Argentina versus the Netherlands, which will surely set up an Argentina Brazil semi final that could be a tasty watch later on next week. I’ll need to find time to whack it on in the background.

Catch you lovely people tomorrow. Have a good one.