Unai Emery pulled a magic trick out of his hat. He used the powers of youth to completely disguise that Arsenal hadn’t added a single first-team player to the squad this season and we’re three games into preseason.
Quite amazing to be having a 2012 like conversation after all the backroom upheaval to address exactly this.
Before I push on into the game. I’m also finding the strategy for moving certain players on a touch baffling. If we’re serious about selling anyone, why are we starting them on this tour? Mustafi and Jenkinson should both be getting their marching orders, but we have them stinking out the tour instead? Seems a very odd way to go about things.
Anyway, the game didn’t really tell us much about the upcoming season, other than it looks like it’s going to feel very familiar unless something very aggressive happens in the next two weeks.
Our defence seems to have honed its ability to leak good chances. Fiorentina were very poor but found ways to get in behind us time and time again. It doesn’t seem to matter what system we play, we’re a disaster. It obviously doesn’t help when you have Mustafi in the starting 11, but look, it’s not me putting him there.
My major worry is this: Emery has zero pedigree with defences. He averaged 49 goals a season at Sevilla. He took PSG from 17 goals, to 27, to 29. He couldn’t better Wenger’s tally last year, dropping 51 goals despite adding a keeper, 2 defenders and 2 defensive-minded midfielders. Where does the progression come from? Nothing in history to suggest he can change things.
Moving forward we looked interesting. Eddie had a really good game. He finished very well twice. Those chances haven’t been going in when it comes to competition time. I’m of the mind that he should go out on loan this season and see if he can work on his decision making. He needs to get some teeth. I know as fans we always lose our minds with kids on preseason, but the reality for Eddie is that Emery is not going to give him many chances this season because he has Laca and Auba… so maybe he should take the move out and force his hand in the back half of the year.
I also enjoyed seeing Willock on the scoresheet again. He really does have to be ready this season, at 19, it’s a big ask, but he does look the most ready. He’s focused, he has the physicality and he can be decisive. Let’s hope Emery doesn’t bottle it.
I also thought Gabriel looked sharp… he has a lot of pace and power. That long run he made was very exciting. It’ll be interesting to see what the club does with him. Can he cut it in the first team? A huge ask if we’re honest, but you never know… I guess it’s dependent on how badly we fuck our big signings.
I was watching with my dad. He made the point that we might as well give the kids a shot, because if it’s mistakes the manager is worried about… he’d not keep playing Mustafi and Xhaka. Let’s hope he doesn’t get consumed by the panic of his job situation and move away from his youth focus.
In other news, there’s hot talk that United are in for Auba for £62m. Arsenal fans are furious at the thought of us moving him on. I love Auba, I think he’s a joy to watch at times, however, if there’s huge money on the table for a 30-year-old, we should take it and progress the squad. As things stand, we’re finishing no higher than 5th this season… if £80m gets us Zaha and Pepe, we’re in a more solid grounding next season… we might also be able to kick this Tierney deal over the line.
Holding onto your best 30-year-olds when you’re skint isn’t progression in my opinion. Especially when they only have two years left on their deal.
Right, dine out on that my friends.
What did YOU think? See you in hell (comments).