Match Review: Ollie and Akpom impressive, Zelalem does it again, Theo sloppy

Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?

Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?

Here are my thoughts on today’s pre-season friendly against Vietnam.

In today’s match, Arsenal looked a bit sluggish. After a quick start and a Giroud goal, the tempo of the game slowed down for a bit. This is surprising, considering the strong line-up with which Arsene started. However, in the end we picked up the tempo and put seven goals by yet another team.

The first goal involved a smart, chipped through ball from Rosicky to Giroud. Giroud received the ball, was calm, and fired it across goal without even looking. He got a bit lucky, as the goalie got a touch to it and it hit the post, but in the end it was in.

After that goal Arsenal became too comfortable. The midfield looked off the pace and the possession was not good. We didn’t use the wings as much as we should’ve and it stopped us from creating chances. Later in the first half Poldi wiggled his way into the box and tried to lay it off to Giroud, but in the end they weren’t on the same page. Then Poldi again would take a shot similar to Giroud’s first and hit the post, with the rebound from Gnabry being saved by the Vietnamese goalie.

It took until the 43rd minute for Arsenal to regain their tempo again, with Giroud putting a nice curling shot into the upper corner; and then a minute later, a nice run from Ox with a smart through ball at the end, saw Giroud in on goal and he calmly chipped the goalie for his hat trick.

At halftime Arsene changed nearly the whole team. Right away Theo had a nice chance, but his first touch let him down and he had to turn to lay the ball off to the Ox, who instantly curled it into the top corner; so, no complaints on that one. However, Theo’s first touch was untidy throughout the whole game and he ruined countless opportunities. It’s only the beginning of preseason, but if Theo wants to play striker, his touch needs to be well above the level it’s at now.

Akpom would also show his potential in this game. In the 55th minute, Ramsey poked a nice ball through the defence. Chuba timed his run well, stayed onside, calmly turned around a defender, and bent a ball into the far post with his favored right foot.

Only a few minutes later Zelalem did it again. He played a nice 15 yard ball on the ground, through the Vietnamese defense to Ox, who smartly squared the ball for Akpom to tap home his second. However, this goal was all about GZ. He got the ball a few yards outside the box, got his head up, and hit the ball with the perfect pace and power to find Ox’s feet. For a 16 year old, Zelalem is class. If he keeps his head down and works hard, we really might have the next Fabregas on our hands. He should be given a few Capital One Cup games this year for sure.

Finally, good combinations from Eisfeld and Miquel down the left saw Eisfeld play a good ‘negative’ ball to the Spaniard’s feet, and Iggy fired it across goal into the far post’s side netting. It was a poacher’s goal for the left back.

After that seventh goal, Arsenal sat back and Vietnam got a lucky goal. Martinez’s foot work on this goal was not good as he struggled to get off the ground. Wilshere came on and looked fit, even forcing the opposition’s keeper to get a red card for handling the ball outside of his box to stop Jack from scoring.

One final interesting note: two of Arsenal’s four centre backs today were not recognized centre backs! In the first half Sagna played in the middle of the defense and looked very fit (and much sharper than Kos). In the second half Aneke replaced Sagna in the middle. It’s interesting that Aneke has played in the middle two games in a row now. Perhaps Wenger is looking to convert him? Or is there just no room for him in our crowded midfield? Please let me know your views below.

Overall, Arsenal looked tired today. Maybe it was the heat or the constant training or the long nights and early mornings. Or maybe it’s just preseason. Zelalem impressed again (even earning some praise from Jack in a post-match interview), Giroud looks set for a big season, and the future still looks bright.

Here are a few questions for you:

  1. What did you think of Arsenal’s performance today?
  2. Is Wenger looking to convert Aneke to CB, or does he just not fit into Arsene’s plans for our midfield?
  3. Do we need a fourth choice CB or could we use Sagna there when necessary, put Jenks on the right, and have Bellerin as backup on the right?

Thanks for reading. 😀

Written by: Dylan.

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83 Responses to Match Review: Ollie and Akpom impressive, Zelalem does it again, Theo sloppy

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Dylan 🙂

    Wow, two posts in 24 hours! And a very fine match report, which makes me want to watch the game (luckily, I have got it taped). Thanks for helping out, Dylan. Top stuff! 😛

    Another three goals by Giroud….. Bring on some stronger opposition so we can see whether he can do it against them as well, but impressive nevertheless. Two for Akpom is also impressive, and I believe Jack played a bit as well… all good stuff! 🙂

  2. Chuuuuuuuuuuuuuubaaaaaaaa
    This boy is destined to be an Arsenal legend. Exceptional movement and upper body strength for a 17 year old. And Zelalem. Future is looking bright

  3. Biodun says:

    Nice work out for the Arsenal today. It is only the second match of the pre-season, so we don’t expect peak performance from everybody. That said, even though we need to strenghten the squad,I don’t think we are optimising the use of the players in our squad. In my opinion, Aneke will make a good defensive midfielder , all he needs is more playing time. Gideon Zelalem is definitely one for the ‘nearest’ future, he should be given ample playing time in the C1 cup. Same applies to Eisfield,Gnabry, Akpom,Olson, Miguel etc, if these guys were in Swansea, Wigan etc, they will be first teamers. Wenger will do well by giving them more playing time,even in the league. By the way, what has happened to Benik Afobe, thought he was our ‘Drogba’ in the making. Our CBs should be Mert,Koscielny,Sagna,Vermaelen, Miguel. Defensive mid-fielders will be Vermaelen,Arteta,Aneke,Diaby,Coquelin(shouldn’t have been loaned out). How come Frimpong had playing time ahead of Aneke?
    This squad can win trophies, all they need. Is the confidence or self-belief if you like.

  4. olaniranatobatele says:

    Vermalean is out for 3 months we really can’t risk using risk using Sagna as a back up CB. Although he did well vs Sunderland last season we need another CB all the top teams have 4 strong centre backs why should we be different? We need another centre back

  5. Milo says:

    Aneke will NOT play centre-back permanently, as far as I can tell. If there is too much congestion in the deeper-lying central midfield positions, then what better position to learn the finer points of defensive play than at centre-back??? Too many people are over-reacting on blogs and forums just because Wenger played Aneke out of position for two matches, and Olsson at right-back, which I have to admit IS a LITTLE nuts. I’m not saying the author of this article is over-reacting, but on other sites??? You should see some of the venom directed towards Wenger and the coaching as well as the development staff, just because Aneke hasn’t played in midfield. RELAX. Just because you don’t know what Wenger is doing, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he is doing, as I saw someone correctly point out on another website. The joke’s on you if you are hyperventilating over which position Aneke is being deployed in 😀

  6. Dylan says:

    TA, anytime! I’m more than happy to write posts whenever they’re needed. 🙂 I agree, Giroud needs to be played a lot in the bigger friendlies (Emirates Cup, the one vs Man City). If he can perform well in those we may be able to expect an incredible 20+ goal season from him! 😀

  7. Dylan says:

    Ian Hawthorne, I agree Chuba looked very good today! Redeemed himself from last friendly in my eyes. 😉

  8. Dylan says:

    Biodun, I worry that Wenger has no future plans for Aneke (seeing as he is playing out of position), but we’ll see. As for Afobe, he’s still injured. And with Sanogo here now, his chances of making it in the first team look very small.

  9. Dylan says:

    olaniranatobatele, I agree another CB would be welcome. But perhaps it’s not a priority with Sagna’s ability to play there? However with Verm out, we probably should sign another. Preferably a younger one (around 21-24).

  10. Dylan says:

    Milo, I’m not too worried about Aneke. It’s just curious that Wenger can’t find room for him. Maybe he’s destined to step up and take a DM spot from Arteta when he retires? We’ll see. 🙂

  11. Milo says:

    Well, Wenger probably wants to get a look at how well Olsson, Eisfeld, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Zelalem do in midfield. Although Chuks has been at the club the longest out of any of those players, he probably won’t be in direct competition with all of them. Maybe even none of them! 😀 He won’t replace Arteta or Ramsey just yet, so he will have to be patient while he learns from his experiences and peers further back on the pitch than he would like to be. He can also learn a tonne from watching Diaby at work, if he ever does return! Chuks COULD be the longer-term solution to finding a direct replacement for Abou. Abou played all over the park when he first started playing in France, I believe, so there is no reason why Chuks shouldn’t be left alone to do the same 😀 I would have been more worried had he not been on the tour at all!!! 😀 I think Wenger is actually quite desperate to see how he fares during this tour, so he has fit him in where he can. Some “supporters” are arguing that he should be ahead of the likes of Olsson, Zelalem and Eisfeld. I disagree mainly because he isn’t quite as technically proficient as the players I just mentioned. He IS very technically sound, but not quite at their level. So I don’t mind him being played out of position. As long as he makes it long-term at the club, that is all anyone could really ask for, isn’t it??? 😀 This is just my opinion, but I think he WILL play in midfield during this pre-season. He played very well there against Man City last pre-season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger takes bit of a gamble again in this fixture or the surrounding ones.

  12. Dylan says:

    Olsson, Eisfeld, and Zelalem are definitely ahead of Aneke, Milo, agreed. I also agree that there’s no harm done if he makes it long term. 🙂

  13. Milo says:

    They are ahead of him in a technical sense but Chuks is pretty close to them! He has a bit of a different body type to them, that might put them ahead in a the technical aspect, but Chuks has the potential to be a beast and a terror of a midfielder to play against, IF he gains the RIGHT TYPE of weight, and increases his running output. Believe it or not, he has A LOT more vision than Abou Diaby, and he will keep this and his innate understanding of play. In fact this will increase the more he plays. Remember, vision works on BOTH sides of the ball!!! 😀 I think he will come on leaps and bounds with the correct coaching and just by being around a player like Abou Diaby. He played against Yaya Toure, I believe, in the previous pre-season, and wasn’t completely over-matched like a player of Eisfeld or Olsson’s size would be, on most occasions! I definitely see the potential for growth, if he is willing to put the work in and work harrrrrrrrrd!!! 😀

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Great job, Dylan! Thanks also for the chat today, hopefully some of my comments influenced your conclusions ;)… It’s great to see a young gooner who can write (really) well AND is interested in what happens on the pitch, not just in fantasy land…

    I’ve got a real thing about watching players to see if they can use both feet, obviously more important amongst the attackers. There’s plenty of pressure on the youngsters on this tour and if they have the moxy to use both feet AND the touches come off it’s really impressive. Unfortunately my stream was hit and miss. If anybody knows how I can get an ESPN feed here in the States (I can pay a reasonable fee to my satellite company, DirectTV…) I’m all ears…

    On that note, I’m continually disappointed in Kieran Gibbs. He tried a right footed final ball and everybody watched it sail well away from everybody. Giroud was more fortunate but also more skillful with his running to make sure everything allowed for a left footed strike. Against tougher competition, however, we will need two-footed players…

    Likewise, of course, with Theo (and to a lesser extent our other one footed guys–Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere and Poldolski)….I’ll be looking at this stuff as well in the younger guys. GZ and Akpom, as good as they are for their age, need to show that they can use their left foot too… They were strong and composed today deep in the opponent’s box, I thought…

    Finally, like I said on the last thread, I’d like to see some tighter passing and harder work to provide outlets amongst the midfielders. Hopefully the Japanese teams provide a sterner (more park-the-bus style) challenge where these skills can be seen. Our full-backs play that same game in our system so I don’t really see the trouble in technical players like Olsson playing there…

    Overall, the tour seems good and you can’t be too troubled about 7 goals every match. The transfer doings are another matter entirely…

  15. Dylan says:

    I agree with you 100% Milo. 🙂 Thanks for the info on him. 🙂

  16. Dylan says:

    17HT, I appreciated the chat during the match this morning very much as well. And thank you for the compliment. 🙂 I agree that the ability to use both feet is huge, especially in a passing style team like Arsenal. This is why Cazorla fits in so well in our team. Hopefully some of the youngsters coming up have the ability (or work to gain the ability) to use two feet at a decent level. 🙂

  17. ng says:

    i dont see aneke’s future at the emirates (be it cb or mf). thou sagna is a good back up for the cb we still need another cb, especially after tv5 injury setback. zelalem for me is ahead of all the kids, even gnabry. his positioning, vision and accuracy of passes is a cut above the rest.

  18. Milo says:

    Xavi Hernandez mainly uses his right foot as does Pirlo, Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso, Ozil…Cazorla, Iniesta, Oscar and probably only a few others can truly say they are two-footed…but for truly attacking players, like Cazorla and Iniesta, it is probably more important than a player in a deeper-lying position, maybe??? 😀 I’m not sure…when I played I was two-footed 😀 I couldn’t kick with either one 😀 I don’t think a player such as Jack Wilshere will ever be truly comfortable on his weaker foot, and that is alright. Of course, if he were two-footed it would be much better!!! I’d say for Jack, it is more important that he is comfortable TURNING in EITHER direction!!! 😀 That really is crucial!!!

  19. Milo says:

    Sorry, Ozil uses his LEFT foot, but you get the drift! 😀

  20. Dylan says:

    Milo, I agree. The higher up the pitch you play, the more helpful it is to be two footed. 🙂 But in any position it’s still a plus! 🙂

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    Agreed Milo and (for example) Ramsey and Theo are unafraid to use their left foot on final balls…Whether or not they come off is another matter!!

    A certain part of my point is that, amongst the younger players, for whom this tour is a big pressure cooker, it’s interesting to see if they even DARE to use their chocolate foot. Gibbs did today (not so much pressure on him) but I wonder if he’ll be doing so once Nacho is there to take his spot…Plenty of these youngsters will not see regular first team action for a while, so it’s something for which to keep an eye out…

    You’re Canada based, right Milo? Do you watch the kids play on Arsenal player? Just curious as that might be a bit of fun… (Any insight into the new ESPN situation would also be useful…)

  22. Dark and bloody says:

    Only saw the highlights and the team looked worn before the first goal. I read elsewhere they practiced twice yesterday and once this morning. Tough in that climate.
    Buy a CB a DM and another scorer whether crazy Louie or the that other guy and we are competing again.
    I thought our shooting was pretty good so I asked a buddy who did some shooting in the DMZ and a little north of there a few years back and he said they did well. He said he always worried about the moisture causing his finger to slip a bit on the trigger. Did not see that problem with these Gunners.

  23. Wengerball says:

    Greetings Dylan, great analytical post. You certainly breath the Gunners as you truly are keen on details with them in a nice constructive way.

    My take on your 1st Q,… I think the team played through there skin bearing in mind the hot humid conditions in Hanoi, juggling Corporate Social Responsibility activities and Wenger scheduling 3 tasking training sessions before the game all this in a short space of time. The positives for me is that the team has the focus to pour forward at every possible opportunity and keep it tight at the back so as they aren’t playing catch up anymore… but more of catch me IF you can… which so far is great as they are leading from the front. Having seen the Vietnamese goal, I personally enjoyed it from a soccer fan perspective as Martinez could do much about it… I think it’s one of those which you credit the scorer more than reprimand the goalkeeper… luckily we were 7 up.

    I think Wenger has an abundance of Midfielders and on that note, I’d be very surprised if he actively pursues a Midfielder in the Transfer Window… as such, he wants to see how he can utilize his abundance of midfielders to give the strength and depth to the team to ensure the objective he set out for the season have the adequate resources needed to achieve details goals. Using Aneke as a CB, gives Wenger options now and for the coming season, as he will then have 5 tried CBs if you include Sagna that is. Also, I remember Ramsey had to play several positions last season and it has eventually done his confidence and composure tremendously well today from knowing that it’s all about the team and getting a job done while keeping a great attitude and not sulking at trying to be versatile for the general good for the team. I think my 2nd answer does respond to your 3rd query as having Sagna play at Sunderland and today as well, number wise, Wenger will consider that he has 3 recognized CB while having the luxury of. Sagna, Miquel and Aneke and that should solve any CB needs for the upcoming season.

  24. Wengerball says:

    Sorry for a few Typos… e.g I meant Martinez couldn’t have done much to keep out the goal and credit to the Vietnamese scorer…

  25. Gerry says:

    Dark and bloody – That final paragraph does put a new perspective on the 7-1 win … going on the pitch with AK47’s would give them a slight edge I guess? – ha ha

    But you are right on the context of the game, the travelling, the heat, and all the media stuff, it is bound to take time in a match to sharpen up and get focussed.

  26. Arsega.seth says:

    You can as well use this in pre season nowcome back to England and use it against tottenham you will see how leneonn and bale are going to use them as ball and swansea will now go to champions league no reputation wil be given to useless strikers like giroud he will still continue to be flop believe me guy i rembered to tel you that all arsenal fans are very sick and tired of wengers policy in the club only that we don’t have ibromuchi in the club .

  27. Gerry says:

    Dylan – If I can make just one note about future reports … It is nice to have the starting 11 at the top.I know, following your chat with HT17 that this was a late, late decision to do a write up, so you are fully excused on this occasion.

    That said, you have done well once again. Not only do you spot the little things that others might miss, you add insightful comments too . Two in two, well done.

    I am one of those who have yet to see any of the game. I followed it on text. This time provided by the Guardian writers – which back in the days of the Grauniad, toady’s task would have implosibes(context for those not so ancient or familiar with that aside,National daily newspaper, known for regular typos!) – whereas this was very much tongue in cheek. It could have got some gooners very irate, but I found it put the actual match under less serious scrutiny. Here is a quote that I think we can all appreciate?

    78min – A little late in coming, but Stewart Robson finally has a dig at Arsene Wenger.

    So when I finally get to see the game as well, I can appreciate your write up even more. As to your questions, I have no view that adds to what Wengerball and others have said.

    Q1 It is a promotional tour, and these games are part of that. They need to put on a good show, and so far they have.

    Q2 Well only AW will know the answer to that.

    Q3 For now I think Sagna will still be our No1 RB I have argued long and often about his value to the squad, and beyond his current contract he will still have value. Not necessarily as a full time CB or indeed as RB, but as that defensive ‘go to’ player you can pull off the bench and cover several positions. That will available for many more seasons. So the need for another CB does exist. Playing Miquel at LB may be just to assess his usefulness to keep in the squad rather than send out on loan, or sell, as one of the Spanish clubs was reported to have an interest?

    Two things that the Guardian report picked up on, that I have not seen mentioned. Did Gibbs get a back injury early on? And what was it with Ryo, on, then off again 15mins later?
    Was he injured, or was it just to test an existing problem before his home country game?

  28. Mr Bond says:

    I don’t know how good these players are, and nobody can really tell except Wenger himself, but if all the reviews and raves they are getting is anything to go by, then the question is, are we clamoring for new players to come in because others are buying or do we really need new additions, does the manager see things that we are not seeing. He’s the one under pressure to perform. If he strengthens and we win trophies,good but if he doesn’t and we lose out in all, his head will be on the chopping block. Lets not crucify wenger yet and let us not kill our chances of silverware before the first kick of the ball of the new season

  29. AmericanGunnerFan says:

    Thanks for your insightful game summary. It was particularly valuable since other obligations made it possible for me to only watch highlights of the match. However, I would like to address the last two questions that you asked in light of some experience that I have had in other professional sports.

    Wenger has put a lot of his career and reputation into developing younger talents into top class players. I think he has selected what he considers to be most of the best young talents at the club to take on this trip in order to give him a chance to see if and how they might fit into his first team squad. And, yes, as with virtually every manager or head coach in any professional sport, his assessment of these young players will influence whether he decides that the club needs to acquire a more seasoned veteran to fill the holes that Wenger knows need to be filled in the first team squad in order for Arsenal to be competitive in the league and Champions League competitions ahead.

    With Vermaelen out for three months, evaluating what Sagna, Miquel and Aneke can do in different positions is even more essential than it might have been otherwise. The most obvious question that Wenger has to find an answer to is whether a combination of these three players can provide sufficient cover behind Koscielny and Mertesacker at CB until Vermaelen returns? I know that the prospect of having two inexperienced young players and a RB playing out of position covering that key spot is enough to give most Gunner fans indigestion and throw some into a rage, but, from Wenger’s perspective, what good is it having young talents developing at a position if you don’t ultimately give them a chance to play at some point? And, if you’re not going to play them when you’ve got a man down with an injury, when will you ever play them? But, with Vermaelen out for so long and the stakes so high, he has to find not only find out whether they can play the position if called on, but whether they have the versatility in their game to cover another position if needed. Otherwise, he’s going to have to spend money to bring in a veteran who can play the position…whether or not he can provide cover elsewhere. Can he get by for three months with two or more of these three covering the back-up spots at CB or does he have to go out and buy another Squillaci, who he might be stuck with sitting on the bench for the better part of the next three years? (Why do I say another Squillaci? Because how much do you want to spend on a fourth CB and what level of quality player is going to want to come to the club to be its fourth CB? Unless its an exceptional situation, either you’re going to have to over-spend for that position (let’s say to get a Williams) or you’re probably not going to get that good of a player…ie a Squillaci.)

    Whoever ends up being Arsenal’s fourth choice CB isn’t going to play much once Vermaelen comes back and is healthy. So, it’s to the benefit of both the player and the manager if that fourth choice CB can play other positions. Yes, Sagna can play CB if needed, but, so far, he’s the only first-team RB who has shown that he can deliver a reasonably accurate aerial cross into the box for Giroud and Podolski to use their heads on. So, using him for cover at CB would not be ideal, especially if he had to do it for any length of time. Besides which, Sagna has had injury woes of his own in recent seasons. Miquel can play the position, but is he strong enough and can he provide cover at any other position if needed? Well, why not try him out at left back where Gibbs (a former midfielder as a youth) has been injury-prone? And, why not try out Aneke–who is very strong, but faces a lot of competition in the midfield–at the position as well.

    There’s a double benefit to giving Aneke playing time at CB. Young attacking players often pay much more attention to developing their offensive skills than to developing a defensive awareness. As a result, when they start to play on the highest level, they often ignore or are ignorant of their defensive responsibilities. This not only places a lot more stress on the defenders, but, because players at the highest level are good enough to take advantage of the slightest defensive lapse, it often ends up in the club being punished for their lack of defensive awareness. Just as everyone who goes drinking in a pub or a bar ought to first have to work as a bartender/waiter(waitress)/bar security, every young midfielder ought to spend some time playing on the back four. If Aneke never plays another match at CB, the time he has spent on this trip playing that position will forever alter his perspective of the game…for the better. Aneke may not have quite the skill level of Zelalem, Gnabry, Eisfeld or Ollson, but Diaby doesn’t have the same skill level of a Fabregas, Wilshere, Ramsey or Cazorla–yet, when healthy, there’s a place for Diaby in the starting XI for certain matches because you can’t teach size.

    What is Arsenal’s weakness in the midfield? DM. Arteta has covered that position better than he is given credit for by many, but he’s neither big nor fast and it’s really not his natural position. I happen to like Ramsey in that position because he’s too slow and offensive minded to play up-front and still attend to his defensive responsibilities, but he’s a bulldog when he plays in the DM spot. Other than Frimpong, who has had a string of injuries and isn’t a great passer, and Diaby, who may never be healthy enough to play, Arsenal really doesn’t have a big, strong, fast DM who can also make plays from the back like Arteta can. Hence why so many Arsenal fans have been calling for the club to buy a good young DM. But, that has proven to be difficult to do, even at an inflated price. But, what if Arsenal already had a young midfielder who could fill that role and perhaps also provide cover as the fourth CB? Well, that’s where Aneke comes in.

    Everyone’s focused on how much money Arsenal has to spend in the transfer market. But, if you spend 30 million on Higuain or 40 million on Suarez and another 6 million on a veteran keeper…and then want to keep enough on hand to match a bid from ManU for Fabregas and to make a last minute bid for either another attacking midfielder or another veteran striker, you can go through 70 million really fast. Wenger knows this. And, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want to get out-foxed by ManU making a last minute bid for Fabregas because he’s spent all of Arsenal’s money and can’t match their offer for Cesc (an you imagine the out-cry amongst Arsenal fans if that were to happen!?!?). So, he wants to see what he’s got in his young kids–if any of them are ready enough that he can rely on them at the first team level–before he goes out and adds any more players to the roster in the transfer market.

    Any manager or coach at any professional club in any sport who is dealing with some limitations on his ability to spend money on players would do exactly what Wenger is doing with his young players. He knows that Sagna can play CB in some situations quite well. But, he also knows that that isn’t an ideal situation to have for three months. So, he’s got to test the kids to see what they can do and whether they can be versatile enough to contribute at multiple positions. He’s going to evaluate their abilities on several levels and then he’s going to have to make a decision about whether he believes they can get the job done or not.

    I cannot predict what Wenger will decide. At this point in time I don’t think anyone can with any degree of certainty because I don’t think Wenger, himself, knows what he will ultimately conclude. I’m not sure that Wenger has seen enough of the two youngsters in action on this trip yet to come to a decision. But, what I will say is that I think that what he is doing on this trip is the best thing that he could do for Miquel and Aneke insofar as their careers are concerned…at Arsenal or elsewhere. And, I do think that he is doing the best for Arsenal in running them out there in these positions during this trip. (I will also say, in conclusion, that it’s too bad that Bellerin was unable to make this trip because I think that he could really be a factor in what Wenger decides.)

  30. JM says:

    1. What did you think of Arsenal’s performance today?

    Our first two friendlies are basically warm-ups (players familiarization with one another, different team setups in attacking and defending plays and building match fitness and momentum). The sterner tests are ahead in Japan, playing against J-League club sides, Nagaya Grampus and Urawa Reds (who are already in the middle of their league season and with their players match-fit, technically and tactically ready).

    2. Is Wenger looking to convert Aneke to CB, or does he just not fit into Arsene’s plans for our midfield?

    Wenger is not looking to convert Aneke to CB permanently (at this point), he is using our tour (and friendlies) to get every player involved in “Total Football”. Everyone is a defender and an attacker – making runs, passing, pressing and all.

    3. Do we need a fourth choice CB or could we use Sagna there when necessary, put Jenks on the right, and have Bellerin as backup on the right?

    Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Miquel should be our main CBs. Sagna can play occasionally when needed. Jenkinson can also lend height and strength in the middle (which would mean Ramsey switching to an emergency RB/RWB, and Wilshere/The Ox/Rosicky partnering Arteta in CM, etc etc).

  31. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. Great job Dylan..

    I love Giroud footwork.. He look very relaxed and seem more compact with the other players.. Rosicky, Sagna, Gnabry.. and others..
    If he can maintain his performance.. i think he will be our topscore..

    Our Youngster also look very promising.. Eisfeld and Zelalem were awsome..
    Gnabry and Akpom also play better than before..
    Our future look very bright.. hehehe..

  32. Dylan says:

    Dark and bloody, I agree that the weather had a huge effect on the team. And I agree a DM and ST are priorities this summer. But I still think we need another AM. 🙂

  33. Dylan says:

    Wengerball, thank you. 🙂 I once again agree about the weather. However, I still think we’re in for a midfielder. Preferably one who can play many midfield positions (ahem….Cesc). 😉 As for Miquel and Aneke, I hope they’re both loaned out. Miquel needs PL experience and Aneke is still young.

  34. Dylan says:

    Arsega.seth, I have to disagree. I think Giroud will be very good this year. And adding either Higuain or Suarez makes us title contenders.

  35. Dylan says:

    Thank you for the constructive criticism Gerry. I’ll be sure to include the starting 11 next time. 🙂 As for Miquel, I would prefer he gets a loan. And preferably in the PL. That way he can get used to PL attackers and know what to expect in the future from different teams. Experience is invaluable, especially for defenders, and especially in specific leagues. 🙂 As for Gibbs, he appeared to have a small back injury for a while, but seemed fine by the end. As for Ryo, I’m quite worried about him. In the first game he got no playing time and in the second he subbed in for 15 minutes and then subbed off. Maybe he’s not 100% after last season’s injuries or maybe he’s being saved for Japan, but you’d think he’d be a focal point of this tour after three big loan spells. Surely Wenger should be watching to see if he’s ready to stay at Arsenal. With Theo, Gnabry, Campbell, Ox, Poldi, Gerv, and other youngsters on the wings, Ryo needs to work hard to get a first team place.

  36. Dylan says:

    All agreed Mr Bond! Wenger usually tries hard to not buy players that ruin our youth players chances of ever playing. Wenger WILL buy. Just give him time to be smart and sure about it.

  37. Wengerball says:

    Generally, I concur with AmericanGunnerfan. Well thought out evaluation…

  38. Dylan says:

    AmericanGunnerFan, thank you. 🙂 And what a comment! Truly, a very smart insightful comment. 😀 I have to agree with pretty much everything you said. Wenger wants to be smart with his money, see if the versatility of our players means he doesn’t have to spend, and is likely eyeing Man U and Cesc carefully.

  39. Dylan says:

    All agreed JM. I’ve heard these Japanese teams are pretty good. I’m very interested in watching them play and seeing how we fair against them.

  40. Dylan says:

    Thank you henrychan. 🙂 I agree, if Giround keeps this up, he’s set for a super season and the future does indeed look bright. 😀

  41. Gerry says:

    Dylan – I’m glad you took what I said in the spirit it was meant. (smiley face)

    I agree Miquel probably needs a loan, but I think he could be useful for that left back cover as we are without TV5 for both positions. We’ve been there before with injuries to both choices. So may be a post Christmas loan?

    AmericanGoonerFan – I’m not sure I can agree that the players on tour are the only ones under consideration. I think Nico Yennaris is probably going to get the same role a Coquelin did last season, more often from the bench. He too can cover more than one position. particularly at RB, and as much as I am a great fan of Bellerin, it may be wrong to expect too much of him this coming season?

    The thing is, the reserves did have games that needed bodies, Nico, and probably Hayden as well, were the ones that have drawn the short straw, but long term in AW eyes he knows already what they are capable of, and will not be departing anytime soon. The other two, it is an opportunity for clubs like Real Betis to see if they have space for them. Aneke has already had loan spells, so he either can now show he can step up, in which case this tour is his opportunity? Or steps aside and sign for a club who can use his talents in a lower divisionperhaps?

    Personally, I am not in favour of the way the loan system is set up. I think the club that takes the loanee should benefit more from it. Give them a financial incentive to do more to develop the player. Whether that be in a cut price pre-agreed purchase price if the parent club does not want the player after the loan period? Or a %age of any future sell on? Too many times clubs have loanees that they simply don’t use, either because they took them on to cover for injury, or they simply don’t give the time to develop them to get them in their side?

    On the TW front, I wonder if we are not in a good position to pick up our very early target?

    But I agree with Giro, that Saurez would do wonders for his game, and Santi’s too, picking up on Henry’s point about him needing better players to play the ball to?

    I repeat, I still do not see signing of quality being a barrier to progression, rather the reverse. They will get more opportunities to play 30 minutes in a side under no pressure, rather than waiting until it is desperation time, when they get all tense knowing that they cannot afford to make a mistake? We’ve had the too much too soon, with both Gibbs and Wilshere to know that that is not ideal.

  42. Dylan says:

    Gerry, perhaps loaning him out in January wouldn’t be the worst idea. But if we bring in a new CB, he needs to be loaned out this summer to get regular game time. As for loans, that’s part if the clubs job. To make sure they’re loaning their players out to clubs who will use them. I think AW is usually pretty good about this. 🙂 And I have to agree about the last bit too.
    Having better players leads to winning by more goals. Leading to more blow outs or unimportant games that young players can play in.

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    Afternoon chaps 🙂

    Super comments today which is proof of a fine post, Dylan. I watched the game and agree with most of what you wrote. Bit harsh on Theo, but I am used to fellow Gooners putting the boot in him if and when things are not coming off. 😉

    If these games are good for anything, it is boosting the confidence of our attackers, and that they are doing. Akpom running/anticipation is very good for such a young guy, and the more I see him the more he reminds me of a young Patrick Kluivert. I thought Miquel had a better game, and it was really nice to see Jack back.

    Zelalem plays with fine composure and overview and let’s hope he’ll have an injury-free season to develop further. Ryo had a torrid time as nothing seem to come off for him, literally running into a player rather than past them a few times.

    Still a good game to watch for various reasons and I am even getting used to us looking like the Swedisch national team! 😛

  44. Dylan says:

    TA, you have to be harsh on those you love. 😉 I think Theo is a very good player. But he does have to get better.

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    Even better 😛

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    AmericanGunnerFan 🙂

    Superb, insightful comment! Agreed with almost everything you said, and this is for me the best paragraph of the TW until now:

    ‘Everyone’s focused on how much money Arsenal has to spend in the transfer market. But, if you spend 30 million on Higuain or 40 million on Suarez and another 6 million on a veteran keeper…and then want to keep enough on hand to match a bid from ManU for Fabregas and to make a last minute bid for either another attacking midfielder or another veteran striker, you can go through 70 million really fast. Wenger knows this. And, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want to get out-foxed by ManU making a last minute bid for Fabregas because he’s spent all of Arsenal’s money and can’t match their offer for Cesc (an you imagine the out-cry amongst Arsenal fans if that were to happen!?!?). So, he wants to see what he’s got in his young kids–if any of them are ready enough that he can rely on them at the first team level–before he goes out and adds any more players to the roster in the transfer market.’

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    Dylan, love with charity, I’d say. 😛

  48. Milo says:

    17, I watch the youth play on Arsenal Player, when they are permitted to show matches, and I catch all the highlights wherever I can. I don’t get ESPN, so I might be a little screwed this season!!! 😦 I don’t have enough money to order it either!!! 😦

  49. Dylan says:

    17HT and Milo, I believe NBC picked up the PL tv rights from fox soccer (at least in America).

  50. Glic says:

    Afternoon Bk Broke Backers 😆

    Dylanesque does it again !. Great stuff !. 🙂

    We have to give our boy`s credit for performing in such hot humid conditions and for 45mins or more in only their second game since the end of the season. I would be worried trying to find my knob after just a couple of minutes in a Turkish Sauna let alone Hanoi for 45 mins, they eat all sorts of things !. hahaha

    Questions ?

    1) As above and this was a harder game than the earlier ” Scream Team ” game, fitter and more technical opponents. Our finishing was excellent and made the biggest difference .

    2) I haven`t got Scooby doo ! ( that’s clue for anyone who is not a dodgy cockney like me ! )

    3) I have said this many a time, Sagna wins everything in the air at RB and in 2 games at CB has done the same, he sees danger and acts accordingly. I personally have not cried out for a CB acquisition and have not changed my mind even given Verm`s stress fracture of his back. Sagna is more than capable imo, more importantly, he needs to have his contract extension sorted !. I think having Sagna at CB actually helps him in that…”a change is as good as a rest”……….It`s like having a new player and he himself probably feels like a new one in that position !.

  51. Dylan says:

    Thank you Glic. 🙂 The only problem I have is that even with Sagna and Miquel covering for Verm, I feel we could still do with another CB. A permanent 4th choice. As suggested previously, perhaps someone younger who can learn from our current CBs. With them all around the same age, they’re all likely to retire around the same time. And then we’d have no one.

  52. James Bond says:

    imposter alert, imposter alert

    Mr.Bond i mean really ?

    Glic, get the laser out pronto !

  53. Simba Murerwa says:

    Why are pple so negative abt Aneke? He is a young player who is capable. Its either Wenger is not happy with his DM abilities or he is already satisfied by his abilities and would like to assess him as a CB. Remember Kolo was bought as a DM bt ended up one of our finest CBs ever and Song was moved from CB to DM with success so I trust like before Wenger has a trick up his sleeve on Aneke. As for Miquel I am happy with his performances and would prefer him to buying a player like Ashley Williams. The only problem is that we have been playing these youngsters when there is a crisis and the situation will be tense hence not conducive to introduce youngsters at times. I am not much into a big signing as long as we don’t lose any of our top talents like the seasons before. If only if only Fabregas can come back then with the current team we are fine. Please let Wenger try out these young players as the present experienced were also introduced at one stage and impressed so let them get their chance.

    On another note have you noticed that apart from our two Polish keepers we can have two teams of only four nationalities. Check below:
    1 Szcsezny (Polish)
    2 Bellerin (Spanish)
    3 Monreal (Spanish)
    4 Mertesacker (German)
    5 Miquel (Spanish)
    6 Artea (Spanish)
    7 Gnabry (German)
    8 Eisfield (German)
    9 Podolski (German)
    10 Zelalem (German)
    11 Carzola (Spanish)

    1 Fabianski (Polish)
    2 Jenkinson (British)
    3 Gibbs (British)
    4 Koscielny (French)
    5 Sagna (French)
    6 Diaby (French)
    7 Walcott (British)
    8 Ramsey (British)
    9 Giroud (French)
    10 Wilshire (British)
    11 Chamberlain (British)

  54. James Bond says:

    it’s good that AW is putting them through their paces,

    yep a bit harsh on the likes of Ryo as well i feel, just like JW , he is coming back from a long term injury… with more playing time he will come through…

    for me that skillful and artistry by Poldi summed Giroud up (even though he scored 3 decent goals)… but seriously, Poldi sets it up on a plate for him and he stands still like a statue wanting the ball at his feet (i mean really ? )

    for me that just showed, Poldi slots in perfecto for our fluid game aka wengerball and can be lethal on his days from the left (needs to be starting more games on the left instead of Santi).

    and Giroud, well good thing it’s a long pre-season , he’ll get there slowly yet surely

    that was move of the match for me !

    great article once more Dylan, fab stuff ! keep em coming and i’m loving them !!

  55. Dylan says:

    Simba Murerwa, I have faith that Wenger knows what he’s doing with Aneke. I just wanted to bring it up to see people’s opinion on it. Thank you for pointing out the thing about Kolo and Song. Excellent points. 🙂

  56. Dylan says:

    Thank you JB. 😀 I agree that Poldi did well. The problem with him starting on the left is that Santi gets put at CAM with no room for Rosicky. That’s where rotation comes in though. Wenger will get it down eventually.

  57. James Bond says:

    santi playing behind the striker let’s JW do his thing , i don’t mind Santi in that role to be honest…

    out of all our wingers, Poldi’s crosses are the most accurate and more purposeful , he is great at one two’s as well, (one touch football and on the bike) if you remember his goal on the counter attack (against liverpool i think ? : ) it was a great demonstration of quick feet, intelligent run and on the bike stuff.

    Poldi brings more out of Giroud than Santi whilst playing on the left and for that reason, he gets the nod from me

    he also has a decent understanding with Gibbs and can offer him good support down the left, Santi for me isn’t keen on doing that and needs Nacho to be on his game .

  58. Dylan says:

    Good points JB. 🙂 Santi and Gibbs don’t usually do well together. But I think that Santi brings Giroud into a game more than Poldi. And Giroud’s lay offs help Santi more as well.

  59. James Bond says:

    Santi can bring anyone and everyone into the game, however, in order for Giroud to be effective then it has to be from the wings (Theo/Poldi) , santi may start from the left but he ends in the middle, ha

    Poldi will have a major role to play next season if we are to be successful, a fit poldi on the left can be mighty effective.

  60. Glic says:

    Got to agree with Ian Hawthorne @22:54….The future looks bright, but what about now !.

    Lets look at it since we all had pre-mature boners at the start of the Torture Window !.
    At the start there was a few Super Quality players available ( and possibly available )…..Goetze, Falcao, Cavanni, Isco, Suarez, Rooney, Cesc ( please add more if you can think of any ! ) and the ones of less Super Quality, like Higuain etc ( I cant think of many as I`m more interested in SQ, just like women, I only look at the sexy ones not the mingers ! hahaha ).
    To tell the truth, out of all them SQ players, I thought Goetze and Isco were doable and imo they went at decent prices !. I never thought we would be in for Falcao or Cavanni @ £50M…ish, so that leaves us with Rooney, Suarez and Cesc !. I will omit Higgy as I don’t think Wenger will pay the new taking the piss price of £37M !, especially as he isn`t SQ imo . Rooney !, no chance, we cant out bid or pay higher wages than the Chavs. That just leaves two….Suarez and Cesc, one, we know wants to leave , but will we pay £40m and the other, well, we sort of hold some cards with a ” first refusal “, but he wants to stay at Barca !.
    I conclude that Gazidis and Wenger are a pair of Khuntz for not at least trying to pay Goetze`s release clause and Isco`s ridiculous bargain basement price of £25M ! and for those of you who say we cant compete with The Munchies and Madrid…well….we didn`t even put up a fight, we could have at least made them pay more or even out bid them !.
    I conclude on my conclusion, that we will not buy any SQ this Torture Window !. So lets get the noose out and find TMHT and his dodgy sauce, which is probably his illegal Philippino boy living underneath his microwave oven !

    The future looks bright though !.

    I forgot, there is another SQ player, so lets get in a bidding war with Manscum for an Arsenal fan by the name of Galen…….sorry……Bale !. £80M to blow them out the water !….not enough ?…..make it £100M !. I f**king mean business, don’t mess with me Levy !.

  61. James Bond says:

    wanted dead and dead : TMHT’s sauce aka PeePee

    PS: TMHT where art though


    Until we sign Higuain Bondy i am officialy on strike.

    So see you in the next life. hahaha

    And with the amount of angry Gooners after me, the next life is just round the corner. hahaha

  63. James Bond says:


    it’s alright, don’t worry about it

    it can happen to anyone really !

    expect some interesting developments in the next 12 days though 😉

  64. James Bond says:

    it’s alright, Terry

    come out and play, it can happen to anyone !

    Glic, IBRA is available as well i hear…Real Madrid might be plotting a move to bring him back to Spain.

  65. Highbury Harmony says:

    I did want to say, welcome to BK Dylan! Fantastic two debut posts for Arsenal too!

    Terry, I’m on strike with you. This club is pathetic piece of sh*t and if we walk out with our current squad at the beginning of next season, I’ll likely abandon EPL football all together. People are busy celebrating these two wins as if we’re suddenly a club to beat or that we’ve overcome actual teams, opposed to ones who couldn’t even play Division 2 English football.

    Another one bites the dust and Higuain is apparently wanted by Mourinho if United are unwilling to budge on Rooney.

  66. Dylan says:

    Can’t argue with you too much JB. Fit Poldi will indeed be mighty effective. 🙂

  67. Dylan says:

    Glic, I’m going to play devils advocate here and ask you this: do you know we didnt bid for Goetze or Isco? Do you know we didnt bid £20 mil for Isco so that Real had to pay £25 mil? Just some thoughts. I’m sure transfer business is much harder than we think. 😉 Then again, we may just be slow to act and be making big mistakes. Which would not be ok at all.

  68. Dylan says:

    TMRT, what does your source say about Higuain now? Why the delay?
    HH, thank you for the compliment. 🙂 As for Chelsea, I don’t believe they want Higuain. First of all, Mourinho said “it’s Rooney or nothing”. And second, Maureen undervalued Higuain at Madrid and made him want to leave to begin with! Higuain won’t go back to him now, he’d just be foolish.
    Now to the both of you, there are no strikes in football! 😉 The team may be slow in the transfer market, but that doesn’t mean you give up on them or the EPL. Have faith in our club. You both know that you are fans, and fans stick with the club through anything. You know it’d be a mistake to give up on Arsenal. Be confident. Something will happen. 🙂

  69. Highbury Harmony says:


    There’s no such written rule that a fan needs to stick with their club or that they can’t go on strike if management is doing nothing to improve, while clubs all around us are strengthening.

    There is such a thing as loyalty to fans from management and to come good on promises that “we have money to spend” or that “we’re in it to win a title”. Otherwise, it’s just politics and empty promises; we know how quickly supporters can switch sides and it usually comes with just cause.

  70. Dylan says:

    Well Santos is gone:
    As for a list of more SQ and just plain Q players, give me a minute to list some Glic. 😉

  71. Dylan says:

    Fair enough HH. I see your point.

  72. Highbury Harmony says:

    At the end of the day, Arsenal is quickly become a feeder club, soon to be toiling in mid-table obscurity and hopefully out of the Premier League. They don’t deserve to have a player like Cazorla or Jack in their side and they will hopefully be leaving in the near future if off-seasons like this continue.

  73. Highbury Harmony says:

    It’s not only distasteful for fans, but for the players on the club who have surely joined or re-signed with the promise that we’ll be improving both externally and internally to truly be a competitor. Instead, we stand idle and do nothing.

    I’ll go on strike until management puts their money where their mouths are.

  74. Dylan says:

    Glic. 🙂 Some SQ players still available: Ozil, Di Maria, Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, Gundogan, Hummels, Kroos, Bender
    Some quality players: Benteke, Nani, Chicarito, Yilmaz, Cesar, Jackson Martinez, Soldado, Tello, Sakho, Richards, Abate, Papadopoulos, Gustavo, Alaba, Bernard, Khedira, Turan, Fellaini, Subotic, Gourcuff, Costa, Rami, and probably more. Feel free to add. 🙂

  75. Dylan says:

    You make plenty of sense HH. But I think we will spend. Perhaps on one of the players listed above.

  76. Milo says:

    HH, what happens if we are actually a title contender with the squad we have got already, and we DON’T spend anything on transfers??? What happens if in two years time we win the title??? What happens if we win the title THIS year??? You will look like a fool man, and I didn’t take you for a fool. I think some players will fulfill their potential, or grow exponentially this coming season! Players like Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain (who, by the way looks like a REAL player now) He always had the talent, but now we are getting a more consistent look at it. Don’t forget, he’s only scratching the surface!!! I think Podolski will have a big season as well, as he will want to cement his place in the German World Cup squad. Santi will be in his second season, and will most likely improve, and we have Super Jack Wilshere for a full pre-season and hopefully entire season, this coming campaign. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic!!!

  77. James Bond says:

    Santos’s contract terminated, more wages freed…hint hint ?

    IBRA is also available, Glics, i hear RM are interested .

  78. Highbury Harmony says:

    Milo, then I will be a fool and one that still does not support the club. If that piece of sh*t squad somehow manages a miracle and wins the title then every manager in the PL should be fired and every team should be gutted and rebuilt.

    Giroud is a sad sack of sh*t too. Who cares if he scored a bunch of goals on this pre-season tour? Akpom, an academy player, is scoring a bunch of goals too, which should be an indication of how testing the opposition is.

    I can’t wait for us to fail miserably and see the few players like Santi, Jack, Ox etc. leave us if this awful management continues their ways. What’s the point of the stadium debt being manageable? What’s the point of increased sponsorship from our new kits? What’s the point of qualifying for CL year after year if we’re only in it to qualify and not win it?

  79. Highbury Harmony says:

    few good players*

  80. Highbury Harmony says:

    There is nothing to be optimistic about because we’re never going to get better if this persists. It’ll just be a vicious cycle of new players coming up through the system and our current good players leaving. A perpetual 3rd-7th place team, even if we hit a high or a low during the odd season.

  81. TotalArsenal says:

    Oh dear, HH, all gloom and doom! 😦

    Well, I have said from the start the Torture Window is not for the faint-hearted. Don’t give up, HH, it is still very early days.

  82. Glic says:

    Nice list Dylan !. I will be surprised if we get any from either pile !.
    It seems I`m not alone in fearing we are being left behind at the TW starting blocks again, although I wont go as far as HH in my pessimism !. Come on HH, 4th is a trophy !.

    Only one thing is going to make me smile if we don’t buy some SQ and that’s if the Spuds lose Bale. If they keep him, then they are going to be stronger than last year, as to coin a clichéd phrase….having Kaboul and Sandro back will be like signing 2 new players for them and they will also probably sign a quality striker, possibly Benteke !. Man City have also spent large at an early stage and Chavs undoubtedly will as well, that’s without taking into account all the SQ they have bought in previous Windows, theirs being Tantalising Windows against our Torturous ones !.
    Yes the future looks bright, but it has for as many years as I can remember, but we`re still scraping for 4th !.
    Reff; Goetze. If we had bid the release clause before BM did, then I`m sure he would be on our Asia tour !. as usual we just sat back !.
    I put all this false expectancy firmly at the door of Gazidis !. He dangled the carrot and we/I bit. False promises and hopes again !. Shame really as we are so close and all the fans know it would take just a couple of SQ players, do the management ?.
    This is where I envy the Chavs and City, actions speak louder than words, shame Usmanov was not in control instead of Kroenke imo, I`m sure we would be parading the likes of Hazard, Mata instead !.
    I could go on and on, but it wont change a thing. I`ll just live in hope . 😦

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