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.