Arsenal lost 2-1 to Chelsea in a preseason game that was fun to watch, but for all the wrong reasons.
Arsenal were messy. Chelsea were poor. Both sides have plenty of concerns heading into the new season.
There were quite a few worries for Arsenal fans. The biggest being that the same faces that weren’t good enough last year are mostly still in the side.
Mo Elneny started and was given far too many minutes. He was his usual self. Unambitious, with a few mistakes in the mixer. Why is he so close to the first team?
Granit Xhaka scored and made some lovely passes, but his lack of pace nearly broke an ankle and there were a few flashes of ‘why?’ that he brought to the table. He needs to move to Italy, we need an upgrade, we can’t continue to talk about top 4 if we don’t move on players that aren’t at that level.
Our entire right side of defence isn’t up to snuff. I really like Cal Chambers, but he’s not a first-team right back next season. Hector Bellerin came on and assisted Tammy with his first touch. It was poor, but par the course, he needs to be exited. We need a new right-back as a matter of urgency.
Bernd Leno seems to be regressing with his passing. He looks panicked and totally lacking in confidence on the ball. If your keeper can’t move the ball in this Arsenal system, you need to find a new keeper. It’s painful viewing that such a good keeper in his twenties is so bad with his feet.
The biggest worry – and I do hate to say it – was Auba. He missed a one vs one and a header from 6 yards out. Two seasons ago, those are goals. Is he keeping his powder dry for the new season? We have to hope so. It is very worrying that our best striker at the moment looks like Eddie. He came on and put a show on again. He ran with intensity, livened up the front line, and looked dangerous with every touch.
There were some good bits about the game. We certainly played with more attacking intent than we did in the Premier League last run out. We broke into their box plenty of times, Willock scored a goal that the lino missed, we created enough high-quality chances to come away with more than 1 goal. The big shift is that we’re playing a higher line. That’s giving us more in the opposite third, though it exposed us time and time again yesterday.
Ben White looked decent when he came on, he made a couple of goal-line clearances. He looks assured on the ball, he’s fast, and you can see his range of passing is good. I don’t think anyone can deny the need for him after watching a high line with Bob and Pablo in the first half.
Willock is a messy player, but he causes chaos. His rangy runs and attacking mindset caused issues for Chelsea and it livened up our game. I expect him to leave, but it’s worrying a player we’re sending to Newcastle had more zest than nearly all our attackers.
The star of the match was once again Sambi Lokonga. He came on and the game opened up. He’s fast, he moves the ball with vertical purpose, and reads the game really well. We don’t need to experiment with Mo Elneny, Sambi should be getting first-team minutes from the start next season.
The major disappointment was that Thomas Partey was crunched and hobbled off injured. He was absolutely brilliant in the first half. He carried the ball, he opened the game up with his passing, he pressed hard… such a shame his day was cut short, but hopefully it’s not too serious.
So, in short, a bit of a worrying day out. There’s two weeks to go before the start of the season, we still need about 4 players, and the coach needs to fix a lot of issues on the training ground.
Spurs next week…