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Preseason moved into game two yesterday against Rangers. Mikel Arteta went back to the club that gave him his first British experience, even though it was against the backdrop of the smallest crowd he’s probably ever played there.

The game was so, so.

The players looked fitter and sharper. We controlled the 90 much better. We also created a lot of chances. 19 attempts with 9 shots on target is far closer to what most of us were hoping for against teams in a weaker league.

The highlight was seeing Tavares score a great goal with his weaker foot. He has power, he moves at speed, and he clearly has all the raw ingredients to be a good player… he’s certainly plenty raw though.

The two areas for big improvement.

Obviously, we can’t keep conceding goals from set plays. We did a pretty decent job last season rectifying the issues of the season prior… we cannot slip back to corners feeling like penalties. Good job we have pinched the coach from City to help out.

The other area is in the final third. Auba missed some really easy chances, as did the rest of the team. Arteta had this to say.

‘Overall I’m really pleased with the performance. I think we dominated the game, we created so many chances – I counted about eight or 10 clear chances to score – but this game is decided in both boxes. We weren’t clinical in the opponent’s box’

Goals will come, I’ve no doubt. The key point I’m excited about is that we’re finding ways to move the ball into the final third. Last season, we could barely create.

We still have plenty of good players coming back, transfers will kick up a gear over the next two weeks, and we’ll start to see more sharpness with the play.

Arteta trains a cognitive style of football. He teaches patterns of play that take time to bed into players. He picked Arsenal up from a very low point, his ideas will hopefully start to impact the style of football this season and we’ll not only see a lift in quality, we’ll see a lift in how exciting the football is.

Ben White joining Arsenal is one part of solving the lack of speed we moved the ball through the lines. If you complained about our football being slow last season and can’t see how a ball-playing centre back helps move us on in that department, I can’t help you.

We really need to address the partner for Thomas Partey in the midfield. That will again help speed up the football and make us more unpredictable and give us more options.

The key move we’re all waiting for is who the attacking midfielder is because without that, we’re going to have another frustrating year. I don’t care if it’s Maddison or Aouar, we need someone to help us bind it all together. Resting a season on the shoulders of ESR and Saka is not the path to top 4.

Also worth noting that we haven’t had a viable right back for 2 seasons. Even yesterday, it was absolutely clear that there needs to be a big upgrade on Bellerin and Soares. We’ve spent the last 18 months building from the left. Imagine Pepe having a right-back that could offer him Tierney levels of service? Would be incredible.

There’s not a lot bubbling in the ether today… but Arteta said he was looking forward to some new players joining the party next week.

‘We’re going to have some new faces arriving probably, so very positive.’

Let’s see how we’re looking this time next Sunday.

See you in the comments.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. WengerEagle

    How tall is Lokonga:?

    Because half of the sources say that he is 1.73m/5 foot 8 and the other half say that he is 1.83m/6 foot.

    Lol, bit of a discrepancy there on one of their ends.

  2. Matt

    Considering how long that deal took to get finalised, I am not hopeful on significant business being done in the next few weeks.

  3. Leedsgunner

    Is Lokanga the Ceballos replacement and Lacatelli the Xhaka replacement? Does that mean Azeez is out on loan or with the U23s for another year?

  4. Dissenter

    Edu is going to travel with the team to Florida ,e he may be busy for a while.
    However, I’m pretty sure most of the transfers are done on teleconferencing anyways. Arsenal negotiators didn’t travel to Belgium to sign Lokonga.

  5. Dissenter

    Edu traveling with the team to Florida may actually serve a good purpose since we play Inter there.
    He can use the face to face to thresh out the Bellerin move

  6. raptora

    It’s extremely weird that we’re not all over Aouar since the transfer window started.

    Same Aouar who was the centerpiece of Arteta’s wet dreams last Summer and because of whom we almost didn’t sign a marquee CM in Partey.

    The rumours at the time was that after months of negotiating with Lyon, we reached the point where the player had to say if he wanted to join us or not, and Aouar said no, because we had no UCL football.

    Well we had Europa League football at the time, and we don’t even have that at the moment.

    I see several reasons that we haven’t pushed for a transfer this time around:

    1. Aouar still doesn’t want us even if it means staying put.

    2. Aouar is fine with joining us this time around, but we are his last minute option if nothing better comes around.

    3. Arteta/Edu are upset over his refusal last Summer so we’re not even in for him (sulking is bad).

    4. For Arteta/Edu last Summer was about Aouar OR Partey as a different type of CMs but still CMs and Aouar’s refusal meant they got their second option in the same position. That would mean that Partey is seen purely as a CM and we are looking for a DM this window instead of a CM.

    I, for one, can see Partey, Aouar, ESR like a very mobile, technical midfield 3.

    Leicester – Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison.
    Chelsea – Kante, Kovacic, Mount.

    Arsenal – Partey, Aouar, Smith-Rowe

    I can see it.

  7. NWM


    “NVM, Luiz player for Arsenal… White for Brighton. One is 34, the other is 23.Think we can see why White is appealing to Arsenal.”

    I was not advocating for Arsenal to keep Luiz. It was time for him to go. I was originally pointing out the irony of calling Luiz Arsenal’s best defender, which minus the mistakes he probably was, when his tackle and pressure number were almost identical to Saliba’s who you called passive, though I didn’t mention Saliba in the original post. Defensive numbers are largely contingent on style of play..

    My response about White not matching Luiz’ possession and offensive contributions was a throw away line but it was based on data. He did not match Luiz progressive passing and ball carrying this season, in part because as a right sided center back in a back three he didn’t have as many touches as Luiz, but even when you adjust the numbers to take into account the fewer touches he still doesn’t match Luiz’ numbers and we really don’t know how White’s ball playing strengths will translate when he’s moved inside. Unfortunately, we don’t have his ball progression numbers from Leeds because they aren’t tracked in the Championship.

    Finally a point I haven’t raised. You and others have made the point that White was targeted by Arteta and Edu for his ball playing ability. The case could be made that Saliba is at least as good as White in this area. At Nice his combined progressive carries and passes totaled 738 meters per 90, the best in Ligue 1, to White’s total of 373 meters per 90. There may be a question about Saliba being able to translate these skills to the premier league, but there is also a question about White’s ability to transfer them to the center of the defense. So the decision to send Saliba on loan again and spend £50m on White had to be based on something other than their ball playing abilities and I don’t think it’s because Saliba is a passive defender,. When he played on the outside in a three man defense at St. Etienne he averaged more tackles per 90 than White did this season and won a higher percentage of his attempted tackles.