Arsene’s Dilemma: Perez or Giroud… or ‘Peroud’?

 

Vardy is 5ft 10ins. Perez is 5ft 11 1/2ins. Vardy is right footed. Perez is left foot. Vardy is at his best motoring the left channel. Perez is at his best motoring the right channel. Discount these mirror differences and you couldn’t tell one from the other in terms of playing style. Same pharmacokinetic data, different trade names. To Wenger, Perez is what the doctor ordered. He tried to sign Vardy but it did not work out. No hay problema as he crossed over to Spain and bought Lucas Perez.

What does it all tell us. Well, well, well…..Wenger’s mind is very crafty and we might all still miss his point, but to my inquisitive mind he seems to want his team to be the king of the quick transition, like his teams of the invincible era. Giving more credence to this belief is the fact that he has installed in deep midfield a bloke called Xhaka who pings accurate 30yds plus passes several times per match. In the Bundesliga he was second to Xavi Alonso in long accurate passes last season.

To fortify this belief even further we have to remember that already in the team is a Mesut Ozil, the best through ball provider in Europe. Apart from Perez, Òzil also has the trickery and pace of Sanchez as well as the exquisite off the ball runs in blistering pace of Walcott, all to feed.

All these, however, is hearing one side of the story only. If we don’t hear the other side, our logic would land us in dreamland.

Last season there was a disproportionate number of matches in the EPL that ended in favour of teams with less possession than should normally be expected. Leicester City won the league with 44.80% possession sitting at the 18th position on the possession table. Epl teams have learnt how to sit deep, frustrate and counter. I really wonder if our Invincibles wouldn’t have found the proposition a lot tougher now.

Do we begin to sit deep? Sitting deep is essentially a tactics fashioned for neutralizing superior fire power. Arsenal is a highly technical team, one of the best in the league. It stands to reason that its philosophy must be hinged on the utilization of its superior weapons i.e. to attack and dominate games, of course without prejudice to being committed to defending as a team.

With our superiority, it is inevitable that we would dominate most of our matches. That means that most of the teams would pack buses against us. With teams parking buses when they play us, where would we find the spaces for the quick transition machine that we have assembled? Where do we find the spaces for the fleet-footed anchor legs, except when we are countering the opponents’ counter?

Countering the counter, equipped with this machine that he has diligently contrived, must be making Monsieur Wenger salivate. But expect them to come few and far between. We, however, should not forget that there are teams and situations where toe to toe would be inevitable. Xhaka, Òzil, Sanchez, Walcott, Perez…….that’s awesome. Something tells me that a great number of such teams would live to regret. Still there remains this big task of the unrelenting parked buses teams. Stubborn, dogged, unyielding, well organized.

Giroud is a denizen of the box, both ends. His mailing address is ‘The Box’ and the boxes are where the goal posts are. Got that? In the box Giroud enjoys air supremacy. He’s got wonderful box flicks and box knockdowns. His box positioning is second to none. He is a right box bully. Ask defenders. A bulldozer for the buses.

Herein lies Wenger’s dilemma. Giroud the box bulldozer versus Perez the fleet-footed anchor leg. We wait to see what the wily old fox will do. I will give you a tip. He might do all. Giroud now, Perez then, Giroud and Perez also.

An exciting season awaits us. Bring it on!

By Pony Eye

Holding/Koz, Xhaka/Santi, Perez/Giroud/Theo to Start v Saints: Predicted Arsenal Line-Up

I guess the one good thing about the international break is that we look even more forward to the weekend Arsenal game than normal. Add to this the fact that Mustafi and Perez have been training with the team this week, and with that prompting rumours of them both starting, and we are even more excited about our home game against the Saints.

I watched Southampton against MU a few weeks ago and was very impressed with their style of football. They had plenty of half-chances but lacked the quality up front to hurt the Mancs. For a long time the Saints were in the game but then fellow Dutchman, Jordie Clasie, gave away a very bad, unforced penalty and the game was lost. Let’s hope they are as generous with mistakes on Saturday as they were then.

The Saints pass the ball round well and will give us a game in midfield: a battle we must win if we want to take three points from this encounter. So it is important to get the double DM pivot right. I am tempted to play Elneny next to either Xhaka or Coq as he is brilliant in terms of making himself available for a pass and then not losing the ball. For me this will be key.

Having said that, I reckon we could start with Santi as we are playing at home, as long as he is prepared to stay deep when required. Getting this balance right will be vital. I am going to go with both Xhaka and Santi as they add so much to our attacking play and I am hoping we will be able to press Southampton well back into their own half for most of the time. This would suit the three football geniuses Granit, Santi and Mesut very, very well.

I have a feeling that Alexis will be on the bench for this one. After such a long flight it would be wise to rest the Chilean firecracker as we have a massive CL game in midweek. This should allow Arsene to give Perez a debut, and I reckon it will be on the left, with Giroud as our CF and Theo on the other flank. Wenger may start with the Ox on the left and then give Perez a chance later on, but I somehow feel he will opt for the newly acquired Spaniard.

submit football lineup

At the back I reckon Wenger will stick with Holding and Koz for this one. Young Holding has been doing very well and I think Wenger will want to ease Mustafi in. I guess it will also be a nice confidence boost for Holding if he is not taken out of the starting eleven straightaway.

So there you have my predicted starting eleven for Saturday’s game. Of course we will find out more about fitness levels and injuries of our players during tomorrow’s press conference, which may change my predictions, but for now this is what I am going for.

How would you line up the team?

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal have Excellent new Signings but these two Spanish Bullfighters are Invaluable in 2016-17

Whilst Arsenal have strengthened almost every other area in the team during the last twelve months or so, the full backs were left standing. And quite rightly so, as we have some of the finest full backs in the country and they fit nicely into the style of play of the team.

Full backs at Arsenal are really more wing backs than anything else. They have a massive responsibility within the team both in defence, midfield and attack. On the left we have the energetic and tenacious Nacho Monreal, and on the right we have speed machine and excellent recoverer, Bellerin. As back up we have the loyal and ‘safe pair of hands’ Gibbs and the experienced Debuchy, and Jenkinson is also getting closer to a return to the team.

Image result for hector bellerin images

We all know about the defensive responsibilities of a full back but Arsenal now also rely on them heavily to provide width and penetration from the wings. The traditional winger seems to be a dying breed as more and more teams prefer a hybrid between a midfielder and attacker to play close to the nr10 and CF. Good wing backs are hard to find as the total package requires a lot of skills.

With Bellerin we probably have the most talented wing back in the country and I am pleased the club were able to hold on to him this season. There is no doubt that he can still learn a few things, but he has the rare ability to combine very fast running and close ball control with a cool head both when he attacks and defends. He reads the game very well for such a young player and therefore is often in the right place at the right time.

With Nacho we have a player who gets better the more he plays, a bit like Ramsey in a way. Once he gets properly going Monreal is awesome and a very important player for the team. He has great drive and determination to win and usually finds a very good balance between defending and attacking. It is fair to say that Nacho has also been part of our recent failure to secure our left side of the defence, which was so cruelly exposed against Pool during the season’s opener for example. But I reckon that the team will get this right and Monreal will play a key part in doing so.

Image result for Nacho Monreal images

The one area that needs a step improvement is the final ball into the box by our full backs. Not that they do badly. Monreal and Bellerin both played 36 PL games (!!!) and the former had a total of three assists and averages 0.8 key passes per PL game, whilst the latter had five assists and 0.7 key passes per game, and he also managed to score once. Debuchy did not play last season so no stats available for him, but Kieran had 15 PL games (only three starts), had no assists and only 0.1 key passes per game, but he did manage to score a goal for us in the PL last season (as well as in the CL).

It is pretty amazing that Bellerin, who will be ‘only’ 21 till March next year, managed to play so many games in such a physically and mentally demanding position last season. And the same goes for Nacho who is slowly entering the autumn years of his football career but still managed to play 36 PL games.

I love these Spanish bullfighters and let’s hope they can play a key role in our season once again. And if they can get the final ball into the box just that little bit sharper, we should see even more key passes, assists and goals from our full backs. If we want to win the title than this is one of the key improvements required, and I reckon they can deliver it.

Bring it on!

By TotalArsenal.

 

Left Footer Lucas Perez the Perfect Partner for Giroud and Alexis

We know that we should not take the gossip re Arsenal signings too seriously, but if both the Guardian and the BBC report that we are interested in a player then I guess we are getting close.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/aug/25/arsenal-set-to-beat-everton-to-signing-of-lucas-perez

Lucas Pérez, centre, in action for Deportivo la Coruña against Eibar in La Liga last week

So who is this Lucas Perez playing for the beautifully named Deportivo la Coruna?

From the video below you can see he is not the tallest but neither is he small at 1.81m. The almost 28 year old seems very left footed which would suit us fine as he could play on the wing, supporting either Giroud or Alexis in attack. And Ozil seems to work best with fellow left-footed players.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lucas+perez+martinez+youtube&&view=detail&mid=33B2776F844E41922B1F33B2776F844E41922B1F&FORM=VRDGAR

He played 35 League games last season, with a total of 3141 minutes on the pitch. Lucas scored 17 league goals and produced an impressive eight assists. His pass success percentage is 79% and he produces two key passes per game on average. Those are the sort of stats that would suit Arsenal very well. I know that many a Gooner is dreaming of a super CF who scores 25+ PL goals a season, but I reckon Wenger has long ago decided he does not want to be too reliant on a single CF anymore. And it is about time that we follow suit…

Spreading the goals makes us less predictable and dependable on the form and fitness of one super player, and I am confident that between Alexis, Giroud, Theo, Danny and possibly now Lucas Perez we can score 50-60 PL goals per season. The rest will come from our midfielders and defenders, and our wider squad players in attack.

Lucas Perez had an average of 126 minutes between goals and assists in the league last season, and this is better than for example Alexis who needed 144 minutes between goals and assists in the previous PL season, and a lot better than any of our other options on the wing or in the CF position. I have a feeling that Wenger could play all of Perez – Giroud – Alexis, with the Spaniard and Chilean on either wing and interchanging regularly, in some of our games. Alternatively, he could rest any of these three and give the likes of Ox, Iwobi, Gnabry, Theo and Akpom a chance to shine.

Wenger is also likely to continue with Alexis in the middle during a number of games, and then play Lucas Perez and one of Ox, Theo or Iwobi on the wings. I don’t know about you but that gets me quite excited too.

By all means, Lucas Perez could also play as our CF as he reportedly is good at hold up play, which could mean he could be a good direct replacement for Giroud in certain games. However, I cannot tell from the footage I have seen whether the holding CF role would fit our apparent transfer target.

I have a feeling that this signing will go ahead, as it totally makes sense from Arsene’s perspective. Of course it could also be a typical Arsenal decoy for another signing in attack the club is hoping to make.

Let’s wait and see. 🙂

By TotalArsenal

One Day every Gooner Will Realise that Arsene Wenger is a Saint

So we gained a point in hard battle against the Foxes and also got our first clean sheet of the season. After a false start against Pool, I reckon an away point against the Champions is not a bad return. We all wanted more as we needed to bounce back straightaway, but we will have to wait for it. I can live with that – many fellow supporters, it seems, cannot.

It is a natural law that when Arsenal are not performing to expectations the fans will get out their personal theories, pet hates and simple solutions to solve all our problems once and for all. Furthermore, speak to any supporter of any club and they usually tell you that their team are two players short to become a super team, especially if they are not top of the league.

I have some of these theories, pet hates and simple solutions myself, but never do I believe that I actually know more than Wenger. Yet when you read the blogs and comments there are thousands of key board heroes who reckon Arsene is a fool and they could do much better.

Making suggestions on how to do things different and better for the purpose  of discussion is of course absolutely fine: where would blogs be without it? But the lack of humility and delusions of grandeur by so many fellow supporters is at best frustrating and at worst depressing…. especially if the comments and posts are full of derogatory terms about Wenger’s age, intentions, capabilities etc.

I can tell everyone that a manager who won the FA Cup twice and finished second last season in the last three years, deserves respect and support on its own. But for some reason, this does not seem enough for so many fellow supporters. With or without Wenger we may not win the league again for the next twenty years or so: this is a strong possibility as the PL has become so much more competitive over the last ten years – a period in which the BoD and Arsene invested in the long term future of the club  through building a big, modern stadium that will bring in the necessary revenue to compete with the national and European elite clubs for decades to come – and this is likely to become more challenging rather than easier. It makes the PL such an exciting league compared to the monopolies of Germany (Bayern), Italy (Juventus) and duopolies of Spain and the Netherlands.

I can live with the knowledge that it will be tough to win the league again, let alone regularly in the next ten to twenty years. The only thing I can hope for is that the club can fight for the title with a realistic chance of winning it, every season. And that we do/ will do without any doubt.

I hope that we will keep doing this through building the team with a long term philosophy and strategy, rather than trying to buy and let go lots of players every season. I like us to be great through a set of values and principles the Club, and all its 599 employees, will treat as holy.

I want us to continue to develop our own from the youth teams and from those bought around 16-20 years old from other clubs, home and abroad. I also like us to add experienced players to fill first team or back-up gaps, and I like us to add real, top-gem quality when possible. And that is exactly what the club is doing.

I have no doubt that we will bounce back soon and that Wenger will get the team to compete for the title once more this season, with or without adding the magic ‘two players’. This does not mean that I am convinced we will win the title, but we will have a decent chance to do so.

But what I also feel really, really good about is that the club is now well positioned to compete at the top year in year out, and as soon as Wenger decides enough is enough there is a good structure in place to continue our philosophy and strategy for years to come, which will be very attractive to whoever will succeed the great Arsene.

One day there will not be a single mentally well-functioning Gooner left who does not believe that Wenger was the best thing that ever happened to the club, and that him dedicating such a large part of his football management career to the club is why we are now always fighting for the top prizes. One day every Gooner will realise that Arsene was, and is, a Saint.

By TotalArsenal 

This post was inspired by Terry Mancini’s Hair Transplant’s superb post on ArsenalArsenal:

Transfers? Leave it to Arsene

Koz-Chambers, Coq-Elneny, Theo-Alexis-Ox, Santi nr10: Predicted Line-Up and Tactics

Leicester City v Arsenal – The Champions and Runners-up meet early in the season for a feast of football?

Predicted Line-up and preferred Tactics

It is hard to predict how Wenger will line up against the Foxes this evening. In my previous post I picked my favourite 11 to both win the match and make a strong statement in the process. Having read Arsene’s comments over the last few days, I now reckon he will line up something like this:

submit football lineup

It looks certain that Koz will start and Wenger also seems to be indicating that Alexis may start again up front. I am in favour of  both decisions as Koz brings confidence and Sanchez has been a really good alternative to Giroud in the last two games. We scored six goals against City and Pool and that is a fine start to the season, especially as Giroud and Ozil – our top-scorer and top-assister last season – have not been seen on the pitch until now. Alexis is due a goal or two himself, and playing him central means that he does not have to work too hard and can ease himself back into top form.

With Ramsey out it is to be expected that Wenger will pick Santi for the nr10 position. On the wings, it is a choice between Theo, Ox and Campbell, as Iwobi is injured and Jack is probably not match-fit enough to start there. I would prefer the Costa Rican, but it looks like the speedy Englishmen will be preferred for this one.

This will be another battle of midfield and I wonder whether Wenger will stick with the ‘Dogs of War’ Elneny and Coq rather than introduce Xhaka from the start. My feeling is he will go safe and opt for the Swiss Maestro to come on later.

At the back the team picks itself, although some will argue that Gibbs should start ahead of Nacho. I reckon Wenger will stay loyal to Monreal, and he is also the sort of player who gets better and better the more he plays. I feel Wenger will not give up on Chambers easily and prefer him to Holding for today’s epic battle.

Tactics

We know that LC prefer to play on the counter and I hope we will not make it that easy for them. They will sit back and absorb our pressure and then spring the counter with their new signing Musa, Vardy and Mahrez, supported by the impressive Drinkwater whenever possible.

I don’t want us to expose King Koz like that in his first game. It is likely to cost us dearly and lead to injuries, and not just to Koz. As the Foxes are at home, it is easier for us to sit back and force them to come out and play, and then we can have fun on the counter instead of them, with the likes of Ox, Theo and Alexis offering a great threat, especially if they are fed by Cazorla and Elneny (and by themselves of course).

So let’s play compact and with real discipline and not allow them space behind our midfield that leaves the defence exposed. Let’s also be patient and professional, with the aim to take all three points back home – even if it is ‘just’ with a 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal

How to Line Up against Liverpool: 4-6-0 with Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Rambo, Alexis and Campbell in the ‘6’

Here we go again. A new season, new hope, light after darkness and all that… Enjoy the ride and who knows where it will all end.. 🙂

We already published a pre-preview a couple of days ago, so let’s be brief with the preview (and it does not look that 17HT is doing a preview for today’s game).

The problem with being title contenders, well maybe not according to the all knowing pundits but definitely if you listen to the majority of the fans, is that every game becomes a must win. Yet we are entertaining one of the best footballing teams of the last five years, and an English football giant, in Liverpool. Who knows how the game will end, and of course I am hoping for a thumping win to shut the front door on the digital and paper pundits properly – and reunite Goonderdom in the process.

Oh how the ITV reporters were having a go at Arsenal not investing in the squad when we were losing to the Northern Oilers (£150m on players just this summer alone), and oh how quiet they became once Iwobi and Theo put us ahead with decisive and beautiful goals. But more than a win, I also want to see a fantastic game of football in which two teams give their all and show what they have got.

It is the start of the season and teams have to find their form and shape, so we have to see how it goes today. We played well during the friendlies but nothing fully prepares a team for the real stuff. An early goal against might disrupt or galvanize either team, and a rash challenge might lead to a straight red early on…. it is all possible.

I like Klopp and the way his teams play, and it seems that he is the perfect match for Pool, both for the football club and the city. There will be no Mourinho like sitting back and absorbing pressure and pounce on the counter from them; in fact, we may be forced to play like that with Pool pushing us back into our own half. With Giroud and Ozil out, I reckon we could play a 4-6-0 with the aim to not let them dominate us, but instead make Arsenal dominate Pool in their own half.

I don’t think Wenger will go for this, but when I do match previews I don’t want to predict what Wenger is going to do. Instead, I want to look at the team and see how we can  best attack our opponents.

Given the injuries at the back, I am tempted to play a style of football that keeps the opponent away from us, rather than sit back and absorb pressure.

This would be my preferred line up for today’s fab battle against Pool:

Arsenal v Pool ideal

Iwobi, Rambo and Ox/Campbell can sit next to Elneny and Xhaka and squeeze the life out of the Pool midfield, and then we can attack in their half with our passing game and Alexis working as a false nr.9… yep the Barca-esque way. That is what I would do, but what would be your formation and starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal.

 

Wenger and Wilshere are Right, and Xhaka Will Make the Difference

Whether we agree with Arsene or not about his performance in the transfer window (which is still open – so I reserve judgment), it is the lads on the pitch that will need to give it everything this season. Like many supporters, I would like one or two more faces but there is no doubt we have a super, top-talented squad.

In my view, the main thing last season acting as the undercurrent of our weak performances was mentality and leadership. I think that by correcting this, other aspects of our game such as conversion rate will improve as well.

I get the impression Xhaka has been brought in as a key part of improving the team’s leadership mentality, which feeds into our team spirit. Granit strikes me as someone who possesses the key ingredient of a leadership mentality: a great focus and seriousness of effort he puts into each and every moment he is on that green turf. This also refers to Wilshere’s reflections that this was a weak point in the team, which needs improving: see his latest Arsenal.com interview of 1 min 30 secs in: http://player.arsenal.com/interviews/video/8099/-we-can-t-wait-for-the-new-season).

I think it’s not too far a leap to ascribe this weakness as part of a cultural disease: the ‘sign him up culture’ that football, and English football in particular, is corrupted by and that breeds a self-entitled, ‘I want it now’ culture among the fans. Signings are great, but as Arsene knows it is not always the answer. The self-entitled man who finds a solution with money and not through hard work and dedication.. in the players’ case playing great footy; and in the fans case, believing in and supporting the team.

I have just watched the pre-match press conference with Arsene, and am sorry to say I feel pretty disillusioned with the media and the culture of brainwashed consumer fans it has surely emboldened, if not produced. In what should have been an opportunity to explore Arsene’s thoughts on the actual football taking place over the weekend and beyond, about 90% of the questions fielded were about transfers and contracts.. Of course the media effectively are the mouthpiece of agents and some very rich men.. How much did Mr Raiola make from the Pogba transfer for example?

In the interview, Wenger said that football is about performance, not finances at the end of the day.

Of course finances have an impact on the performances but it is not the sole factor or deserving of 90% of the questions coming from the journalists today. I can see Xhaka (and other leadership initiatives/coaching) helping us overcome the mentality and leadership issues. But will it be enough come Sunday?

I trust they are doing their best and that they will knuckle down to some serious footy from the off this time. If we also do our best by believing in the team and supporting them all the way, then I think we will be in with a real chance.

COYG!

By FMJ14

Does Wenger already have a replacement for Olivier Giroud?

How to replace Olivier Giroud?

The French word for Marmite would surely be ‘Giroud’, if they were ever converted into eating the dark, divisive substance. Many love him and many do not, but there is little doubt that the man who scores or assists in the PL every 110 minutes will once again lead the line in the coming season. And this is not because he is the best CF available, but because he is the best CF for Arsene’s system of football. The man who worked with some of the best attackers in world football knows what a typically good CF looks like, and I have no doubt he could get us one in no time – and one you and I would probably hardly or not have heard of. But he, like Deschamps, has opted for Ollie as his ‘Holding CF’, which I have explained on this webblog many a time.

The big question to ask is what will happen if Giroud gets injured? Who should replace him?

For me there are five options – and it would be good to discuss these on this blog today:

  1. Alexis
  2. Sanogo
  3. Akpom
  4. Another internal option
  5. Buy Buy Buy

Alexis

Theo has said he wants to focus on playing on the right wing from now on but it remains to be seen whether Arsene wants him there. But with him saying he is no longer confident he can be a good CF, Wenger needs to look at his next option up front. I reckon Alexis would be a good shout to play as our CF but it would mean a change of system. He would fit the false nr.9 system (1-4-6) or being played as ‘an Aguero at Man City’. Alexis would fit this free CF role really well, and I have no doubt he can reach 20+ PL goals in a season. It is unlikely that Wenger will opt for this unless he has to, though, as it would mean it big change in system.

Sanogo

Yaya is young and raw but he is our best option to play in the Giroud role. His positional awareness is very good and his body strength is already impressive. He can play as our attacking pivot around whom the attack can function at its best. We all know that his finishing needs to improve dramatically, and it would be unwise to bank on Sanogo covering for Ollie if he were to get seriously injured at this stage. But the big advantage is that we can continue to play the same system of football albeit less effective.

Akpom

Chuba, who will be 21 in two months, is talented and the more classical CF option. There is a bit of Ian Wright in Akpom and I like him a lot. We need to see more of him to judge whether he can make the significant jump to the first team, especially if he were to cover for Ollie in case of a long-lasting injury. The jury is still out and it would be a big risk on Arsene’s side to believe he can be our ‘nr.2’. On the other hand, he might grab the opportunity with both hands and be a big success.

Another internal option

Is Takuma Asano the right one for us? You tell me! 🙂 Or should the Ox be played as our CF, a suggestion JNYC made yesterday? Can you think of anybody else who could cover effectively for Giroud in case of injury?

Buy

Or is the one and best option buying a super CF or just good cover for Giroud: do we have to go external? Clearly, a super CF will want to play all the time and will not accept to be second best to Ollie. This would mean a change of system of football in all likelihood, and I reckon this is not on the cards (especially at this late stage of our pre-season). Good cover for Ollie, ideally somebody who can also play on the wing, seems to be the most likely option Wenger will take. But has he left it too late, and how many players are prepared and capable to play the ‘Holding CF’ role? Or will he go for an internal option?

What do you think fine fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal. 

 

Holding & Akpom Give Arsene Headache, Ox Draws Goat’s Blood, Debuchy Fights for Survival: 8 Friendly Observations

Chivas de Guadalajara v Arsenal Pre-season Friendly: 1 – 3

Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Iwobi; Walcott

Subs: Martinez, Debuchy, Bielik, Gibbs, Zelalem, Elneny, Campbell, Willock, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom

Rob Holding celebrates scoring

It is hard to review a match watched between 2 and 4am on a small Ipad screen, but let’s try to analyse the game and see whether we can pull some more conclusions.

Here are my eight observations:

  1. Holding continues to look very promising. Part of me thinks he is too young to play a big part in the coming season, and another part feels he is the Max Verstappen of our team: level headed, confident, fearless and very, very talented. He will be 21 next month so he is not that young anymore, and if he were to play with the likes of Cech, Koz and Nacho, who can guide and coach him, he could do really well from the start of his Arsenal career. Arsene says he wants to add experience in the CB position but young Rob will be adding a lot of food for thought for him at the moment. Holding did not have a perfect game but his composure, passing and drive are very exciting; and he scored a fine goal to get us in front early on  as well. Stuff of dreams right now and let’s hope he will keep it up.
  2. The return of Cazorla, combined with Xhaka and Coquelin behind him, was a joy to watch. He clearly was enjoying himself and produced some fine attacking passes. It was surprising to see Xhaka play quite high up the pitch regularly, and he also produced some excellent through-balls, especially to our full backs. At times I struggled to see whether it was Santi or Xhaka who produced the through-ball or classy forward pass, but it is really good to see that we had more than one creative provider on the pitch with the King of Assists still not in action.
  3. We are blessed with excellent goalkeepers. Cech is such a calming influence and his experience on and off the pitch is vital for us. But Ospina is not far behind and I hope Wenger can keep him motivated to stay at least another year. Ospina, just like Cech, may let in the odd stoppable goal, but his presence and professionalism have a calming impact on his fellow players and that goes a long way. Martinez also looked tidy in the second half.
  4. Ox scored a peach of a goal, the sort of cracker we know he is capable of. We have to see whether he can score regularly against tougher competition but this is a very promising start to the pre-season for AOC. At the moment, he is winning the battle for the other ‘midwing’ position – Alexis will of course take one as soon as he returns – from the likes of Iwobi and Campbell. The latter two looked a bit flat, or maybe I should say ‘ineffectual’, against Chivas. I remain skeptical about the Ox’s chances to claim a first team spot this season, but his attitude, directness and fitness levels have been impressive. Campbell and Iwobi have to raise their game.
  5. Theo positioned himself a lot better, just a shame his finishing was well below par once again. It must have been a dagger in the heart for him when Akpom scored so soon after he came on. Akpom did not necessarily impress that much either last night, but he did the thing that matters most in football and that is of course putting the leather over the line. I see Akpom as a traditional CF who looks more towards getting on the goal sheet than helping out the team constantly ala Giroud. But he has an eye for goal and the coolness to take his opportunities, which we cannot pooh-pooh…. another headache developing for Arsene: include in squad or send out on loan again? Theo, on the other hand, needs a goal, or at least an assist, very, very badly right now.
  6. I liked our aggression in midfield. Especially in the first half, there was a fierce and welcome battle in a congested midfield between the Chivas and Arsenal midfielders. Both Coq and Xhaka were strong and fought aggressively for midfield dominance. Francis and Granit were still a bit rusty and gave away too many free-kicks, but I really liked the physicality of their play. This is just what we will need in the PL to dominate teams in the midfield area. Add Elneny to the mix, who had another fine 45 minutes, and we have a really strong midfield that will provide the axis around which our game can flourish.
  7. Debuchy played with passion and aggression, which  brought us a goal and cost us a penalty. I don’t mind the latter. I want to see Matthieu give his all and fight for his position and that is exactly what he was doing yesterday. Good man. And the assist for Akpom’s goal was very good: well placed and kept on the ground to make it easy for the CF to finish. I want him to stay and fight with Bellerin for the FB position.
  8. Mesut was in da House. I know we are all desperately scanning the sport websites for news about new signings, but let’s also not forget the importance of keeping this continuously improving squad together. Seeing Mesut supporting the boys in the stands put a smile on my face. I want him to be well rested before he starts playing for us again, but I cannot wait to see him back and work alongside the likes of Xhaka, Elneny, Coquelin and Santi, to name but a few.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal with Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil

What are your observations?

By TotalArsenal. — Thanking The Mirror for pictures.