Pre-season Observations: Ozil and Emery reconnected, Eddie is Ready, Need Nicolas Pepe

It is only early days and there is still a good chance that Arsenal will strengthen (and or weaken) the squad further before the transfer window closes, which could still have a big impact of course, but there are definitely some interesting early observations to be made. Friendlies are of course just relatively meaningless friendlies but Arsenal have played these games with intensity and purpose, which in itself is a positive thing and may indicate that Emery and the squad are still (again?) in harmony.

Eight early, pre-season observations:

  1. Leno is looking strong and ready to be the undisputed nr.1 of the team. He made a number of strong saves but I also liked the way he talks to the team and imposes himself on the pitch. I reckon this will be his proper breakthrough year. But then I also liked Martinez’s appearances and I feel he would be a good nr.2 to Leno this season;
  2. I am hopeful that Emery will get the midfield balance and strategic positioning right this time round and was impressed with our midfield performance v Bayern (see also previous post). It will be interesting to see what he will do with his new nr.8 Ceballos, who some have described as the ‘Rambo’ replacement. I have already written about how impressed I have been with Willock, and especially the chemistry between him and automatic first teamers Xhaka and Ozil, but now Emery can also throw his RM loan signing into the mix. And what does this mean for young Guendo? He impressed many but I saw more areas for improvements then qualities, especially in terms of defensive awareness and interception skills. I reckon Willock is a more complete midfielder at this stage… a bit of a Wijnaldum if you ask me. Guendouzi is still young and maybe a loan spell for four to six months would do him good?
  3. It is really important that we have some spare firepower in the team other than from the super combo LacaMeyang. With Welbeck and Rambo gone we have only a few other players who can get the occasional goals. We need more from Ozil, Xhaka and Mkhi this season, but we also need one or two CFs to get the goals for us. I am really pleased that Eddie has scored three goals already and have a feeling that Emery will give him regular first team opportunities this season. The beauty of having Laca and Auba in the team is that the likes of Eddie and Nelson will be able to learn and express themselves without too much pressure on them. Bu we still may need to get an experienced CF to come of the bench occasionally…
  4. The Koz on strike situation is not good. It looks like he is just trying to force the club to let him go (and get a to him more lucrative contract in France) whilst leaving a gap in our central defence. I would imagine Emery’s strategy was to combine Koz and Sok at the start of the season and then ease Holding into the CB pairing, with a gradual reduction of games for the Frenchman, which, giving his age and proneness to injury, I could sympathise with. What is Emery to do now? Continue to use Mustafi as a regular next to Sok? I don’t think they form a good partnership and get the best out of themselves. Maybe a deal could be done with Koz: keep him till Christmas and then allow him to go home. Or is this now a great opportunity to buy a quality CB and let Holding and Sok fight out between them who gets to play next to them? A big decision to be made here in the coming weeks… that’s for certain!
  5. Nelson is struggling to impose himself and a new loan deal may well be the best option for him this season. With Gabriel Martinelli Arsenal already have a promising young attacker and surely he will be given a proper chance to play first team football this season. So it is up to Nelson to give Emery a luxury headache and I don’t think he is doing that right now.
  6. The left back situation remains unresolved. On the day Nacho M is as good as anybody but this will be another gruelling season for him and we need back up. Kola is a good option for a 3-4-3 formation (so ideal to come from the bench in many a game), but unless the opponents start flashing knives at the Bosnian beast his defending will remain below par. A great player to have for a Plan B, though.
  7. The most important early conclusion is that Mesut is staying and is playing with fresh mojo. I am really hoping that Ozil and Emery have reconnected and are aligned about the way they want to play football this season (see also previous posts). We have a top-three PL player in our midst and need to build the team around him, and show him the love. A hard ask for today’s Arsenal fan, I know… 😦
  8. A left back, potentially a centre back… do we need anything else? A quality winger would really, really help but maybe Martinelli is an instant hit. When teams park the bus we need players like Iwobi who can dribble past a player to get some momentum in our attacks. Ideally we get an experienced, 15-20 goals/assists a season, Hazardesque player before the window shuts. Zaha would be nice but I am still hoping we can complete the signing of Nicolas Pepe. However, I am also happy to see us use youngsters here and give them a chance to grow. As written earlier, an experienced CF to come from the bench would also not be bad – another loan deal perhaps?

All in all, I am starting to get excited about the coming season, and I hope you are too. Come on You Rip-Roaring Gunners!!!!

By TotalArsenal.

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14 Responses to Pre-season Observations: Ozil and Emery reconnected, Eddie is Ready, Need Nicolas Pepe

  1. Pony Eye says:

    TA, upbeat post, and why not with the explosion of the Pepe story. It’s all over the place. If confirmed it’d be the surest evidence that we’ve rediscovered our size. It’s all positive stories too about Tierney. Wow!

  2. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, TA, I have to say that…I think…you’ve gotten this one…

    ALL WRONG…

    😉

    You need to put Nicky Joe in your title (Pepe is usually the nickname for Jose in Spanish) and you might get some hits/comments… Analyzing Our-senal (i.e., players that are already ours…) and mentioning a Dutch favorite who has already Brexited (and ain’t never coming back to Eng-er-land, where his type isn’t wanted…) is snoozer-ville…

    On the other hand, I’m up early and trying to dial in a new Guatemalan-Ethiopia blend (you know, get the right grind for espresso…), so I’m wide awake and ready to discuss these sorts of things, though I fear I’ve still only seen the one friendly with the weird numbers on the pitch (vs RM) and you’ve only watched that Bayern match…

    More soon, probably…

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha, Seventeenho… I am changing the title!
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49137976

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Who of BK know about Pepe and can write a short post about him? PE?

  5. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good move, TA…

    Didn’t we grab a winger from Lille a few years back? Gerviniho has had a career in the game but is now in a spot more famous for its cheese (Parma)…His teammate, Eden Hazard, has perhaps had the brighter trajectory…

    Anyhow, it’s exciting stuff, but it also makes me wonder who we’re gonna need to sell before early September (when the Euro windows close) if we’re gonna be true to all the noise about balancing the books. End of the line for Mkhi (or maybe Iwobi, others?) if the deal goes through?…

    To me, it’s probably good business BUT it also indicates (to me) that Emery will want to continue trying to give the ball to the opponent and lure them forward in order to spring on the counter. (Zaha like your Memphis fella, has the English “experience,” to try to con the ref and his VAR folks…with his in the box moves). Knowing (absolutely) nothing about him, I’m guessing the younger guy (Pepe) will be happier in the open and will be a foil for the two more established scorers (Laca and PEA). It’s interesting (and Wenger-esque) that we might be going all Francophone up front (and not so good for Eddie and/or Reiss, perhaps)…

    I believe that Emery is a (poor man’s) Mourinho and playing on the break (not to lose) is the Moo-dern game… So, when you talk about midfield balance I shake my head and think it’s all about two DMs interchanging with the CBs (i.e., 6 or 7 across the back) and (desperately) trying not to get turned. (Other front men also need to defend–sorry, but offending by way of blonde hair isn’t enough, Mesut…) Further back, if the Koz is off, I’ve got even bigger worries. I still have doubts about Leno knowing what he’s doing when he’s off his line so there will be spaces to be exploited, I fear. (Martinez as cup keeper looks good enough to me, you know, until we face De Gea in the opposite goal…) In general, I believe we will (somehow…) need to get those “first goals” in our matches and then 2nds (and 3rds and 4ths…) Unfortunately, I still see us playing timidly (at home and on the road) and, generally, having a draw-first-but hope-for-better sort of playing style.

    Ah, but such is the plight of the mid-table clubs… Look what happened to Wenger when he aspired above his (our) station…

    Last season we had the daunting start (at ManCity, home to Chelsea) and this season is actually probably worse right before the Sept. Int’l break. The thing is that Emery now has less rope (with which to hang himself) after the big collapse in the spring. These new signings (if they happen) and continued decent showings in the friendlies could buoy spirits. They will only stay afloat if we get the results we need (6-7 points minimum, maybe) in the first 4 matches…and throughout the autumn…

    Nonetheless, like I say every August–due to the wonders of alphabetical listings–(C;mon, sing it with me…)

    “We’re Top of the Table…”

    IMO, we should enjoy it while we can….

  6. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA, you’ve got mail…Sorry, but it’s not about Pepe…

    Nobody else is around–the traditional work-week, I think, works better for most bloggers…if not their employers… 😉

    Moreover, I think your level of analysis could be too deep for most football fans. We’re buying somebody is SOOOOO much more fun than actually watching (and then thinking about) the team…

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Seventeenhho for your comment and email. We both are critical of Emery but maybe I am more prepared to give him a chance to proof us wrong. AIA – Arsene in Autumn – is still on course! 😉

  8. goonereris says:

    Hey fellas! Nice to see the mood picking up a bit about the club. Had a very close call making my connection at Amsterdam, on my way to Lagos, so couldn’t find time to post a comment (or two) on this, as I am wont to do during wait time between flights.

    So, the Pepe deal is now more certain (when I mentioned it on the last thread, it was per SKY and a French news outlet’s report already, by the way); it would seem the club shares my sentiment that Pepe is a better option than Zaha, at those prices. I still feel Zaha is overrated, but will obviously look better at a bigger club so, good luck to him if it isn’t going to be at Arsenal. I expect the media to put Pepe under pressure (if we end up completing the transfer) for taking the place of a home grown lad but he looks like one with a big heart. I’ve seen a bit of him and he has the power of Drogba in possession, with pace and skills Drogba can only wish for. If he does come in and starts to get a run in the side, Emery will not need to play both Auba and Lacazette in too many games because Pepe has it in him to arrive in the box; or to run in behind to latch onto the through balls from Xhaka and Ozil, even while playing as a winger.

    On the subject of Kos, it is my hope too that he hasn’t burnt the bridges too bad; players and clubs have been known to reconcile after worse spats so, why not? Wenger has allowed some good servants of the club to leave for paltry sums so as to enable them get hefty sign-on bonuses at their new clubs. Perhaps Kos had the same idea and when he saw things were going to be different under the new man, he decided to throw his toys out of the pram.

    We’ve got some young talents from Brazil in the past, who weren’t granted UK work permit for failure to meet national team games quota OR for not falling into the category of “exceptional talents” (or something to that effect). What are the chances Martinelli gets a permit to play for us this season? Any word on that?

    As for our left back situation, I think Celtic will be selling Tierney, after seeing as Arsenal won’t hesitate to go to the next choice target, if No. 1 is stonewalling, so that area is covered. WhatI don’t know is how well he will fit in and perform.

  9. njk84sg says:

    Eris, Martinelli will fall in the exceptional talent category. He is already looking very good and eager to join the first team.

    TA, i will comment on your post later.

  10. goonereris says:

    As for that £45m budget story, which just appeared from no official source, I never bought it because it is normal for the club to be conservative about spending power, or every bid will be bumped up by £20m. Some pundit may have worked that figure out from our last financials (Cash reserves LESS Loan balance, I am guessing) and assumed we can’t go beyond that, being a club with a self sustaining model. We forget that a few commercial deals were up for renewal/extension this year and the ADIDAS deal is amortized over the length of the contract, which gives £60m each year. When you include whatever we earned from being Europa league finalists (not much, I know) and player sales, it is easy to see how we can make such deals, with some deft payment terms that give us room to breath as we aspire this season.

    If we close Pepe and Tierney (maybe that CB, as cover for Kos), it’s fair to say things are looking up. These two are players that were courted by some of our close rivals, including Napoli, United and Liverpool.

  11. Pony Eye says:

    Eris, Martinelli has a dual Braillian and Italian passport. The latter qualifies him.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Eris for commenting on the actual post. I know we all get excited about spending the Effing Money but there is a lot more to our team than just that. And there is nothing better for the football-soul than talking about the football itself, me thinks.

    It is clear that we need four attackers at least and I agree with you that we will see less of the Auba/Laca combo if indeed Pepe arrives. His stats are phenomenal and he is only 24 years old so Kroenke and co are not really taking much risk with their investment. But it remains to be seen whether he will arrive at the home of football – the man is wanted and we don’t offer CL footie (as yet)…

  13. goonereris says:

    Ah! Thanks, PE. Forgot that part.

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