by .

Arsenal lost another preseason game, to another London rival, on a rainy August afternoon at the bowl. No one likes to lose, no one likes to lose to Spurs, but this is preseason and nothing really matters bar the result on Friday night. If you spent last season campaigning that beating Liverpool in the Community Shield meant nothing, pardon me not caring much about how important Spurs is in the Mindfulness Cup.

So let’s reestablish what preseason games are all about.

  • Bringing your fitness levels as close to perfection as you can. Reality is, for elite level athletes, it takes about 6 games to get fully fit, so these guys are going to be burning.
  • Trying out new tactical approaches. Arsenal will have a lot of time on the training ground this season, so expect the football to develop
  • Learning who you can trust and who you cannot. There were players out there today you’d hope to see the back of in the next two weeks

What we did not like:

Our forward line really was drossy today, it has been all summer long. It was last season. Nicolas Pepe loves a standing start and it interrupts his strengths. Lacazette is our best striker, but he can’t drop deep then make up the ground. Auba is the next point.

Auba has lost all his confidence in his thirties. That’s a major concern. He looks depressed and he lacks the ability to contribute at the level we know he can. He’s so far off the pace and that is a concern. I don’t think this is an Ozil issue, he clearly cares, but he’s nowhere near the level he should be right now.

We only have two centre backs that are acceptable to this system. It’s pretty clear that Pablo Mari and Rob Holding aren’t cutting it. Mari with a horrendous bit of WTF in the build-up the Son goal. That’s a concern heading into the season and one that we’re going to have to live with this year.

We’re getting the ball into good spaces and crossing like there’s a target man there. None of strikers are tall enough. None of them seem to have the desire to hustle to win those high balls. It’s pretty clear we need to sign someone with a height and playing style of Tammy if this system is going to work.

Our right side of defence needs the Tierney treatment. The most ideal candidate would be Ainsley, but he wants central midfield, and doesn’t seem to have people advising him to take the Arsenal offer. That leaves us Hector Bellerin, who wants out, but has no interested clubs. With Soares, who is lucky to be at Arsenal. Chances are looking sparse that we move on anyone in that position and that is a massive, massive L for the summer plans.

What we most certainly did like:

Lokonga isn’t going to need 6 months to make an impact on this side. We don’t need to see Mo Elneny in the starting 11 on Friday. The Belgian midfielder looks composed, his range of passing is stunning, and he moves around the pitch with ease. Mo came on and we looked week, Granit Xhaka barking at him because he wouldn’t play a pass that looked on the mild side of risky is exactly why Mo shouldn’t be anywhere near our midfied, but be real, who is taking him?

Ben White looks like the central defender we’ve been needing for a long time. Not sure there will be many doubting what he offers. He has great recovery pace, his ability to dribble with the ball if there is no option makes him dangerous, his passing range is like a midfielder… and he is lightning quick into the back of strikers and midfielders. There were moments he could have done better, there are partnerships to build, but for a full debut, against a decent side, he looked very solid.

Granit Xhaka has come back looking fit and ready. I know a lot of people wanted him gone, but playing next to people like Lokonga and Partey brings out the best of him. He’s going to have a decent season and start on the right footing.

We controlled the game for the most part, moved the ball into dangerous positions, but didn’t make our chances count. That’s the story of the backend of last season. It’s positive that we can do that, but we really need to see some movement on players that can help us be more incisive. Tammy Abrahams in this system gets goals. James Maddison gives us better set-plays and more incisive balls where they need to be. We’re not there yet, but the basics of a very good system are there.

Final thing I liked. It’s clear what needs to be done this week. It’s clear who should stay and who should go. It’s absolutely 20/20 on what the side needs as we head into the final 2 weeks of the window.

Can Edu, who has been on about 15 holidays this window make it happen? So far, it doesn’t look good. We’ve moved the squad forward with two signings that’ll likely be there for the start of the season, but there’s nowhere near enough work on exits and there’s still a massive, massive lift needed to land that #10, a back-up keeper that’s not dropping howlers, and a striker that gives us the right sort of options for the type of chances we’re creating.

It’s a big week, all eyes are on Friday, all hopes are on a big 3 points landing to calm the nerves.

See you in the comments.

487 Responses to “WHAT DID WE LEARN?”

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  1. Anonymous Commentator

    Gravenberch should be a no brainer honestly, barring serious injury he is going to be one immense midfielder who will be courted by title challenging sides sooner rather than later.

    We should be looking to grab these types of players before their sale value creeps north of 50 million.
    Just my opinion. Lokonga seemed like the message had finally sunk in at arsenal but then on the backend of that we’re now chasing madders for 60mil, we would be copping 80mil from gravenberch if we handled him well and someone considered him pivotal to their title run in the future.

    That’s good business, the type we should be looking to do.

  2. WengerEagle


    I hope that he goes on to be brilliant for us obviously but we all heard how Zelalem was the next Cesc Fabregas and Fran Merida way before that if you remember so I have to take it with a massive pinch of salt.

    The vast majority of super-hyped academy kids don’t end up making it at this level.

  3. WengerEagle

    Zelalem, Merida, Lansbury, JET, Owusu-Abeyie, Crowley, Eisfield, Bielik, Akpom [was beloved on here], Afobe, Iwobi, Bartley, Eastmond, Miquel, Jay Simpson to name a few.

  4. TR7

    We should have a simple startegy with regards to young talents in our academy – filter out the most talented half a dozen youngsters every year and send them out on loan for 2 years and then judge who is good enough to play in Arsenal senior team. The ones not making the cut should be sold or released. If Patino and Azzez are really talented let them prove themselves on loan and then we can talk about them as potential Arsenal senior team player. So much noise on Balogun but you can see he is not ready yet. Loan system is the best available avenue to judge academy players.

  5. Anonymous Commentator

    But what do we do if we have Saka’s in house who didn’t need any loans?

    And there’s an issue that needs to be addressed in regards to trialing balogun or martinelli upfront, and that is what exactly is the worst that can happen? That they don’t score goals?
    We already have a pair of much more expensive and experienced strikers not scoring goals more often than not so what’s the harm in throwing balogun in at the deep end and seeing if he can swim? No doubt the player himself wants to know if he can swim in the deep end.

  6. Dissenter

    The developmental approach wont work when there’s an acceptance of keeping average oldies that will block the path of talented youngsters.

    Case in point; It was obvious that Willian was going block the path of Reiss Nelson so the director of football should never have agreed to sign a 32 year old to a 4 year deal on 200k weekly.
    Nelson will be a fool if he agrees to extend his deal.

    Case in point; why is Elneny still doing photo shoots for this club when Azeez can easily be trained to do wherever is expected of Elneny, even a canary can be thought to pass a ball sideways.

  7. WengerEagle


    Gets a bit trickier when you factor in that Auba and Laca are on a combined 450k a week wages so how can you justify benching both for an academy kid/u23 player in Balogun from a financial POV ?

    I don’t disagree for the record, both have been shite [Auba more so] and I badly want them gone myself but we’re stuck with them for the season from the looks of it due to poor forward planning once again.

  8. Champagne Charlie


    And Saka and ESR to name two in the last 18 months.

    What’s your point? The club has big hopes for Azeez and Patino particularly, so where’s the sense in stockpiling teenagers for one position?

    Could just as easily return the fire for talent out of Holland. How’s Van De Beek doing at United? Van der Vaart was a prodigy, Kezman, van der Wiel, Klaassen, Babel, Promes all gash relative to their hype.

    Would be like splurging on a 19 year old CF when we have Balogun and Martinelli waiting in the wings. Just doesn’t strike the right balance at all.

    How much are you getting him for too btw? You’re chopping up a Maddison transfer and Gravenberch is rated at 30 mil on transfermarkt.

  9. DivineSherlock


    The developmental approach wont work when there’s an acceptance of keeping average oldies that will block the path of talented youngsters.

    Case in point , Dani Ceballos preferred over Willock.

  10. Anonymous Commentator


    If player salary is going to have that much of an impact on team selections then we need to adopt Wenger’s socialist wage structure again so that there is no fear in dropping our most well paid players to see what some new blood can do.
    Alternatively we just get a brave manager who isn’t so aware of what players are earning and instead is more aware of what players offer (or don’t offer) on the pitch.

    Maddeningly enough a manager with mourinho’s tendency of dropping fan favs who don’t perform to his own internal standards would be much welcome right now.
    I just want the season to start, let’s see if we can chalk these friendlies up to just being friendlies, or get a real sense for how deep in the shit we are.

  11. TheBayingMob


    Why keep mentioning Maddison? I think our window is largely done, it was all about BW. Its doubtful we are getting anyone else although I hope I’m wrong. Leicester have as much ambition as us these days. It would take an extraordinary deal to prize him away, I just can’t see it happening.

    While we had problems all over the pitch last year one of our biggest issues was scoring. Auba looks shot. Laca is getting long in the tooth. Unless Balogun and Eddie are stepping the fuck up I fear for our goals for column this season.

  12. WengerEagle


    What’s my point? Pretty obvious I would have thought. That the vast majority of academy prospects do not pan out, most actually don’t even pan out to a decent PL level like Iwobi in fact. That list I stuck up above of highly touted ones above all went on to become Championship standard or lower.

    Just because we have produced Saka and ESR of late doesn’t make us the next Ajax or noughties Barcelona. How many can you honestly name in the decade plus before that? Wilshere is about it, Bellerin too if you are being generous who came in as a highly rated 16 year old as part of the Cesc deal.

    We shouldn’t be including Patino and Azeez in first team plans when neither have demonstrated that they are remotely ready for the step up, both need loans out to PL/Championship clubs ideally.

    You keep referring to Gravenberch as a 19 year old, any particular reason? He’s a full international [unlike White who is half a decade older] and already has a lot of top level experience where he has excelled. If you are good enough you are old enough, football has never been any different in that respect.

    You really going there with Van De Beek as a flop? How has Tammy Abraham done under Tuchel? Or under Lampard last year?

    Kezman didn’t even play for Ajax? PSV. As for your other examples,, you’re reaching back to nearly twenty years ago with the Van Der Vaart example who was great for the Spuds by the way and won titles at Real Madrid so a pretty terrible example.

    How have De Ligt, Frenkie De Jong, Sergino Dest, Milik, Eriksen, Luis Suarez, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Zlatan, Sneijder, Chivu all done when they left Ajax?

    Plenty were academy graduates and the ones that weren’t were young and unproven outside of Holland.

  13. The Bard

    Wengereagle a,good post. A reminder of some of the ‘going to be greats’ who ended up bang average. Most don’t make it. They don’t have the mentality. All this fuss about Willock is crazy. He’s ok but he ain’t taking us to the promised land.

  14. WengerEagle

    De Ligt and De Jong were both stars in a near Champions League Final run, that sky-rocketed their value. Van De Beek wasn’t quite as big a star in that side and had a year for his value to cool off a bit hence the lower fee.

    Ziyech was the best player in all of Holland by a country mile for years before his transfer, no surprise he went for what he did either.

    I don’t know if 30m would get Gravenberch but I’m guessing somewhere in the ballpark of 30-40m would. Which would be a great investment as he’ll likely be worth double that inside of a couple of years.

  15. WengerEagle

    And was Babel gash? I don’t know about that. He was immense for a season and a half at Liverpool and won 70 caps for Holland.

    Stuck the knife in on us in the CL with the 4th goal in 07/08 and also won them the penalty the won the match even if it was a soft one. 10 goals with 5 in the CL from out wide in his debut season.

    I remember Bin Dipper fans raving about him when I was younger, why he went so drastically off the boil is anybody’s guess. Lack of motivation and not talent likely.

  16. Champagne Charlie


    Everyone knows the majority of academy players don’t work out, but you talk like every talent out of Holland is the bollocks, or tears up the PL…..which clearly isn’t the case.

    “You keep referring to Gravenberch as a 19 year old, any particular reason? He’s a full international [unlike White who is half a decade older] and already has a lot of top level experience where he has excelled.”

    Yea, because that’s his age. I’m glad you think slaying the Eredivisie is comparable to the PL, but that’s pure rubbish. Young players inevitably do well in Holland and France because the level is much lower, the physicality much less demanding, and the step up is obvious when they arrive here.

    He has 3k mins in the Eredivisie, 1k mins across CL/EL, and 250 mins playing for Holland across 7 matches. That is nothing close to an abundance of top level experience, which makes sense because the lad is 19 years old.

    “You really going there with Van De Beek as a flop? How has Tammy Abraham done under Tuchel? Or under Lampard last year?”

    De Beek was bought by OGS and he’s massively underwhelmed, how is that the same as Tuchel coming in and preferring a striker he bought himself over Abraham? Under Lampard he played the most minutes and scored the most goals for Chelsea. Bit odd that you feel you need to name drop White and Tammy to prop up your argument about Gravenberch.

  17. Mark


    LOL it’s being reported as ‘mixed signals’ but it’s obvious to all that the exclusion of Saliba doesn’t add up.

    To all those who are blaming Saliba for not taking the Newcastle loan. Why the fuck does he need another loan, whilst we have Mari and Holding starting?? Why should he take another loan when Arteta went back on his word that he’ll get a chance pre-season?

    Yet you chumps want to blame Saliba, when it’s obvious Arteta is a vindictive, Egotistical prick, who puts his ego before the club.

    Arteta’s gonna reap what he sows, the real losers are Arsenal tho 😤

  18. WengerEagle


    Not acknowledging that Kezman howler no?

    I’m not saying that is the case, I was saying that Gravenberch is an outstanding young player for Ajax and that a lot of them have gone on to be very successful in the game abroad. Which is true, I just gave you literally a dozen examples.

    And convenient how you don’t tell the whole truth with that Abraham stat that he fell out of favour under Lampard to a 34 year old Giroud.

    I didn’t mean he was a veteran of the game or anything, but he has played at a very high level across an entire near 50 match season for Ajax in European competitions as well as domestically. ESR has played half a season and he is already marked out as a key player for us, a season and a half for Saka and he’s arguably our best player.

    He’s already close to breaking the Holland XI for tournament play and got minutes in the Euros. White who is 5 years his senior is hailed on here as an England international and he is a 4th choice England CB that has yet to play one competitive minute for England.

    And convenient how you don’t quite tell the whole truth with that Abraham stat that he fell out of favour under Lampard to a 34 year old Giroud in the business end of the season. So it wasn’t just Tuchel that didn’t fancy him and even extended to his biggest believer in Lampard. Relevant to Donny because Ole clearly doesn’t fancy him and it really strikes as a club over manager signing that one.

    He only made 4 starts and played 515 total PL minutes last season so it’s a bit silly to determine him a flop, he was never given a fair crack under Ole.

  19. Godfather

    I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the game but from all
    post match reports Saliba had a great game In his Marseille debut. I’ll keep watching that space 😀😀

  20. Vintage Gun

    “Southampton accept bid for Armstrong
    So with Ings already gone ?
    EDDIE IS available.”

    They have had a bid accepted for Armstrong of Blackburn.