I can’t say I was expecting to come away from the Barcelona game with a win, so there’s no point in throwing my kale puffs at the laptop. It’s preseason, Emery appears to still be feeling out his starting 11, nothing matters until the Newcastle game.
We had a fairly positive first half. We took the lead from the usual suspect… Auba. He received a ball from Mesut and unleashed a devastating strike past the Barca second choice keeper. It really was a brutal strike from a man who looks at the absolute peak of his physical and technical powers.
There was a notable performance from Willock. He didn’t let the game overawe him. He works hard, he shows great composure for a 19-year-old and his ability to read play and turn the ball over fast is going to be a big asset moving into the new season. That goal-line clearance he made really was spectacular, absolutely ace concentration.
The same problems were still there, hanging around like those greasy pigeons that eat the Chinese food at the Camden stables. The issues are now so familiar my heart doesn’t skip a beat. We looked confused in defence, particularly in the second half. It doesn’t matter how you chop it up, AMN is not a right back, Chambers is never going to make it, and Mustafi will always, always let players get in behind him. I’m also not sure about our continued attempts to play out the back from way deep, especially when we’re relying on slow players that make lots of mistakes to move the ball forward.
We also have the same old issues up top. Mikhi has been a disaster signing. He’s lost the pace that stood him out, and now he looks like he’s lost interest. He gives the ball away far too often and he’s painfully casual about being average.
The kids are showing promise, but most of them are greener than a bowl of salad. The pace on offer gives us a different dimension. There are flashed is excellence. I just struggle to see Emery giving them a chance in such a high-pressure season. Martinelli, Saka and Reiss all look like they need another loan… but given the choice, I think I’d rather see them in our starting 11 over Iwobi or Mikhi.
The transfer gossip post-match is centred around Umtiti and Tierney. Both are better than what we have. Both were very robust players until last season. Both represent a huge risk. Raul is in a tough spot, his contacts game has its limits, he didn’t have a chief scout for 7 months, and now he’s backed into a corner. If he blows money on them and they’re good for 40 games, we have a very strong chance of Champions League. If things go wrong, on the basis of what we’ve seen in preseason, we really could be in for a bit of a nightmare defensively.
Still, quite exciting, wouldn’t you say? In January we were all shitting our pants that this summer was going to be about #AnnouncePerisic and #WelcomeEverBanega. I’d take your shoe over those two.
Let’s see if Raul can make some magic happen before Sunday!
Check out the first podcast of the season. Big thanks @TopicalStorm for bringing the GOOD chat. You can stream the below through Stitcher, Spotify and iTunes. x