Pre-season Observations: Some Players Are Not Ready, Others Are Already!

10 observations from the pre-season friendly against (Glasgow) Rangers FC

The game was an improvement over our first pre-season friendly against Hibernian FC. Our defence improved and we created more clear-cut chances, too. And we eventually took a point home, however we deserved more.

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Here are some specific observations from the game:

  1. Nuno Tavares blew me away with his MotM performance. Maybe he was already in peak form due to his medical earlier that week, or he is really this good. While he wasn’t really tested defensively, the way he created his chance and the way he converted it were equally promising.
  2. I really like Rob Holding, and he was a true leader in the first half. He wasn’t particularly tested either, but he tried to impress with no-nonsense defending, and his long(er) range passing, which was a hit-and-miss this afternoon (but a fine assist). I’m not that hard to impress, but the new haircut has to go.
  3. If it weren’t a pre-season friendly the media would have crucified Aubameyang. He was wasteful beyond interpretation. The only promising sign is that there is only improvement from here, but our captain and top earner must put himself together – preferably in the USA already.
  4. The other player who didn’t seem to suffer from post-holiday fatigue was Pepe. (The Scottish commentator kept calling him ’Pépi’ – it was a real joy to listen.) He wasn’t as dangerous as against Hibernian, but he was surprisingly active in defending. Which might be a sign that he doesn’t want to lose his hard-fought place in the starting line-up.
  5. After his nightmare performance Okonkwo didn’t put a foot wrong, but couldn’t really redeem himself due to the tame attacks of the Scott team. The goal conceded was not his fault though, the other Balogun’s (Leon) header was a rare beauty, simply unstoppable.
  6. We conceded the second goal after a corner too, the defense didn’t tick yet, however neither Chambers nor Kolasinac are classic, tall man-marking central defenders. Hein couldn’t save the header, but later made a crucial stop that would have put the game to bed. Other than that the Estonian teenager didn’t have much to do either.
  7. While the majority of the fans would like to see Nketiah sold or even released, I’m not afraid to say that the majority are wrong (again). Eddie created his chance from nowhere – like he did against Hibs, but he couldn’t convert that – and posed a bigger threat than any other forwards in his 30-minute cameo. Maybe he could benefit from a quality loan, but selling him would be a major mistake.
  8. Willian, Willock and Nelson also had the same half an hour to impress, but only Reiss managed to do that for me. Lacks a killer instinct at the moment, but always willing to take risks in the final third. Willock wasn’t bad at all either, but couldn’t live up to the crazy hype around him.
  9. I admire Elneny as a person, but he didn’t contribute to either game. It was not Mo’s fault, let’s be clear on that, we simply didn’t need another DM against 2 slow pre-season Scott teams. He couldn’t prevent the headers (nor the quasi own goal vs. Hibernians), and he could’t improve neither the quality nor the quantity of the chances. If he was sent of in the first minute, the result would most likely be still 2:2 against Rangers, but a closer to equal ball possession.
  10. After his dominant display against Hibernians Lacazette was rather anonymous facing the Scottish champion. I expect more impact from him in Florida. He has only one year left on his contract, so he could be sold in this window, or sign an extension. But it’s Arsenal, so we cannot really rule out that he runs out his contract and leaves on a free.

By PBarany

35 thoughts on “Pre-season Observations: Some Players Are Not Ready, Others Are Already!

  • Good stuff, PB. Looks like we have got two good LCBs, but early days of course.

    Auba…. It’s still early days but we need to have a monster of a season.

    Good to hear Eddie had a good start.

  • A lot of players need to be sold, right backs, left backs, CBs,…. and Willock especially. Will be amateurish mismanagement and typical if we loan him. If Newcastle only want a loan, we should offer him around.. Bellerin too would be an addition by subtraction.

    If Nketiah goes, some small club is going to get a huge bargain.

    The cancelation of U.S. tour will actually help us, just not financially. The necessary preseason matches we can get from English teams regardless whether premier league or lower. They will both be much better competition than U.S. teams. I don’t know if we had any international opponents meeting us in the U.S.

    PB, I love Holding, he is so under appreciated, but I assume he will get very little time with a 50m man coming in and no European matches Solid and consistent, I love central defenders who have good positioning and aren’t flashy, like Per.

    On another subject, one of my “I told you so” category again. I heard Stats from the Euro final. Incredible that Italy had more than one individual midfielder who had a lot more completed passes than England’s whole midfield combined.
    England loaded with attackers, great fullbacks, maybe the world’s best group in that position. But that midfield is a joke and Rice is more overrated than even I thought.

  • Good one PB, I watched the second match against Gers. The stream was patchy so couldn’t get the same quality viewing and had hard time following Scottish accent. The commentators didn’t give much info about Arsenal subs and there was no caption either. Really had a hard time knwoing which players are on the pitch.
    Anyways it’s more concerning that we have 4 weeks until the first game and yet we have only 2 new faces and potentially are not starters. White may be announced next week which will give him 3 weeks to be ready. We may have the same te minus Saka for our two big games against City and Chelsea. Ominous signs though but may be lucky if we get Tammy on loan. So for the first 3 games we may have Lokonga, White and Tammy available. That’s a concern.

  • Glass is half full with me guys. Good additions to the team and off loading players is harder than you think in the current climate. Yet Arsenal have done a great job in the last 12 months so let’s remain positive.

  • Jync, we were scheduled to play Inter Milan on July 25th and the winner of Everton v Millonarios on July 28th. The camaraderie to have been gained from bonding with new team mates on such international tours cannot be over-emphasized; the planning nightmare involved with getting alternative games should be of concern too. Most teams have had their pre-season arranged with planners and may have picked certain games with a purpose in mind. Let’s hope we are able to benefit from more training time though.

    Madhu, Arsenal’s situation is no different from the next EPL side, in pre-season. If anything, we have had the benefit of a more complete squad at the start, having had only a few key players away on international duty (Gabriel, Martinelli, Tierney, Xhaka, Leno, Saka…..) and with Tierney back early and White (when he joins) likely to have a short break, we should be on even terms with most of our opponents. I was hopeful we would have a great pre-season too but it looks like the pandemic is still a factor in all things sports. Crazy times.

  • PB, fine observations there and even though I really didn’t see the game vs Rangers (highlights only and I hate watching those, frankly), your report gives enough platform for comments.

    I’ve also heard Tavares did well. I bet his presence is responsible for Tierney’s early return to stake a claim for his No.3 shirt. You see, sometimes, the in-coming players may not have been brought in to be starters; sometimes, they are just intended to give the other player a kick up the backside. Rob Holding has now added passing from the back and long cross field passes to his game; he knows that’s why Ben White is sought after. Elneny must be wondering why we brought in Sambi Lokonga. Should we add Tammy Abraham, nothing else will get Auba firing on all cylinders than such a statement signing; while Nketiah would know he will be better served at a new club. We can’t get all too emotional about it; sometimes you let things that you love go free to thrive. No problem with that (see Emi Martínez, for instance, even though I know we are all unhappy about that one). I like a player who just loves to score goals and that’s Eddy Nketiah for you….only ever very happy when he scores a goal. But he’s had opportunities and just has to realize he isn’t that little kid anymore. Time to rise up to the occasion, even if it means knocking Auba or Laca off their perch.

    I have high hopes for Pepe this season and can only hope he remains injury free. It will be his first chance at a proper pre-season with Arsenal and that goes a long way. Same will go for Partey, Tierney and Cedric (to a lesser extent, having been in the PL a while longer). If there is one youngster I won’t want to seek outright, it is Nelson but it would seem he is the one who will leave permanently. He will still go on to be an England senior international, I think. The others mentioned are expendable, in my view.

  • Eddie’s goal was a thing of beauty. He was Laca-like in how harried the defender to get the ball and he scored because of his pinpoint finishing. He then spoiled things for me when he selfishly shot from an impossible angle when he could have easily passed to Laca for a relative tap in.

  • Guys and girls, we have four people who like to take part in GN5s fab competition until now. We need a few more to make it worthwhile his fine efforts.

    Please let us know whether you are going to join us or not, so GN5 and I can decide whether to go ahead.

    It’s of course absolutely fine if it is not for you and just want to blog on BK, but just let us know so we can plan accordingly.


  • Up there, I meant to type …..**If there is one youngster I won’t want us to sell outright, it is Nelson**

    TA, good news indeed on ESR, not that there was ever any doubt. Agents just played the usual game to strengthen their hand in negotiations, especially as it concerns the No.10 shirt (can he stand the pressure?). Aston Villa was a Pawn in that game and fell for it. Congratulations kid. You go on and be a great role model for the academy.

  • I’m not ashamed to admit if I was wrong.
    When I first heard that Arteta is interested in Nuno Tavares I thought that we don’t need a backup LB with Tierney, Kolasinac (!), Soares, Xhaka (still) and Saka in the squad, and definitely not the backup (plan B) player of a Portugal team.
    While I’m still not convinced the transfer was necessary and he will have sufficient playing minutes to develop and improve himself – but not only a KT-injury can ‘help’ Tavares, but maybe a back-5 formation which can accommodate the both of us – I can see that he is a strong player, and a 7M signing of an opportunity- and success-hungry player is in fact the Arsenal way, not overpaying or overvaluing established players like Ramsdale, Maddison, Abraham or White.

    From that perspective I’m extremely satisfied with both the Tavares and Lokonga additions, but I’m a bit worried of what may yet to come – unless they are Koopmeiners and Onana…

  • Kolasinac is below Arteta’s required level. Xhaka and Saka leave a hole somewhere else, Soares is not left footed so not ideal. Signing a proper LFB was a priority, PB.

  • Most of your argument are valid; Cedric, Xhaka and Saka are indeed not perfect covers for a left back of Tierney’s caliber. One of the the two areas I would argue is whether it is/was such a liability not to have a proper ‘classic’ LB for those 4-5 games when Tierney injured, suspended or tired. Did Arsenal suffer that much in past seasons when Soares, AMN or Xhaka played as ‘acting’ LFB? Even if so, would it significantly limit Arteta’s tactical options to switch to 5-3-2 when KT is unavailable and have Saka and Bellerin/Chambers support a back 3 of Mari, Gabriel and Holding as wingbacks?

    The other dispute is Kolasinac. I am similarly disappointed with his recent Arsenal displays, but we shouldn’t forget that in the season before he joined Sead was selected as the best LB of the Bundesliga. And he was terrific in his first (half) season under Wenger. Remember those internet memes that we have the Bosnian Hulk? I’m quite sure that the skills are still there. But he wasn’t properly coached and/or motivated by Emery, and apparently by Arteta, so I understand if we would prefer to sell him for a reasonable price, but to let the 14-caped German youth and 38-capped Bosnian international (who was worth €20M a year and a half ago) leave on a free – terminating his contract like M’khi, Sokratis and Mustafi – would be the continuation of the saddest Arsenal tradition.

  • Tierney is injury prone, so it’s unlikely that he will miss just five games a season. Furthermore, continuation of style of play is important too.

    Kola… Can he defend? Don’t think so, not in tge PL.

  • Hi Total and GN5. Thank you for the kind invitation to join in the competition. I will have to sit this one out, but shall follow the outcomes with interest. With Spring just around the corner I shall be coming increasingly busy. Apart from my work, we tend our orchard and I shall be assisting my son and daughter in law with their forest garden and organic vegetable production project. We are also constructing their yurt. Bergkampesque will continue to be my first port of call for all things Arsenal, and for the warmth such visits always engender.

  • I think all Kola needed was a confidence re-build and some trust. I did like his tenacity and strength early on, at the club. His runs to the bye line and low crosses were also a weapon; a tactic Wenger appeared to encourage. After his first long term injury, he just seemed to drop off and looked a shadow of himself, making errors choosing the easy backward passes and generally avoiding responsibility in defending. He is one who, maybe, needs a new environment.

  • Did any of you fine fellows view the Alan Ball after dinner speech? I posted the link some time ago. Here it is again. It is among the finest speeches I have heard. Something to enjoy while we await the new season.

  • Hi Stuart, so sorry you cant participate in our competitions next season but it sounds like you are going to be one busy pastor. I find the building of a Yurt most intriguing, they can make a very unique family home or a great get away place.

    The best of good luck with all of your projects –

  • Nice workout for the lads and a chance to see Albert Sambi Lokonga play in the red and white of Arsenal; also, another chance for glimpse of Tavares. Other than the continued goal draught of Auba’s, it was all good.

  • Maybe I’m just accustomed to Wenger’s approach to pre-season games – or I’m always looking for the negatives – but I miss seeing academy players getting a sniff at first team football. I appreciate that Okonkwo and Hein shared the goalkeeping duties in all 3 pre-season games so far, but I expected to see more than half a game from Henry-Frances and Rekik. While I admit my expectations are often too high, but these oppositions could have allowed Azeez, Patino, Cottrell, Lewis, Ideho, John-Jules, Taylor-Hart or Möller to feature from the U23 squad, but even U18 starlets like Monlouis, Hutchinson, Norton-Cuffy or Richards could have given a few minutes to shine.

    However – due to the 30-large squad – not only the youngsters didn’t have the opportunity to make an impression, but we couldn’t see Willock or Kolasinac either, and Balogun, AMN and Nelson were limited to 19-minute cameos. Bellerin and Torreira might be preoccupied with moving away (probably Kolasinac too), Gabriel is injured, Leno, Xhaka and Saka are not yet back from their holidays, Martinelli is in Tokyo, but in principle there is so much more in the pre-season games than we manage to bring out.

    Nevertheless Chambers showed a good offensive display, Pepe continued his form from last season, Partey looked the type of DM we hoped he’ll perform every week, and even Willian looked lively in his 19 minutes. Agreed with Eris, Lokonga was convincing too, Let’s not forget that we (had to) swap the challenge against the Italian champion for a mid-table Championship team, so the conclusions are less applicable.

  • Morning Gooners,
    just having a break Total but yes count me in on the quiz.

    Very impressed with the transfer business both in terms of pace and power/height and the type of player we’re targeting. I’d love Locatelli but he’s heart is set on Juve.

  • Arsenal’s academy has been bolstered by the signing of highly-rated striker Mika Biereth, who had previously been at Fulham, report James McNicholas and Peter Rutzler.

    While the 18-year-old had been offered a professional contract at Craven Cottage, he has turned it down, instead choosing to join Arsenal.

    Last season, Biereth helped fire Fulham’s Under-18s to the Premier League National Final, where they ultimately came up short against Manchester City. He was top scorer in the Under-18s Premier League South — with a record of 21 goals in 21 games — and collected 13 assists along the way.

    Arsenal are assembling a collection of young centre-forwards with varying styles. Folarin Balogun has been promoted to the first team, while the academy ranks include Nikolaj Moller, Khayon Edwards and new arrival from Chelsea Amani Richards.

    Swedish forward Moller, 19, will spend next season on loan with Viktoria Koln in the third tier of German football, which could open up opportunities for Biereth with Arsenal’s Under-23 side.

  • Nice to see you back Kev and thanks for joining in the new competitions, I will post the first groups at least a week before the season opens.

  • Saw the Highlights of the Millwall game and was pretty impressed. Defending high balls remains a worry but other than that we are creating chances and taking them. Next two friendlies will be bigger tests.

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