Arsenal kicked off their list of pre-season friendlies yesterday against French Ligue 2 team Lens and the Gunners were certainly put through their paces.
It was Arsenal’s first match back since pre-season training began, whilst Lens are just a week away from their opening competitive fixture, so it’s understandable that the French side were more match fit than the Gunners. Arsenal found it extremely tough at times and Lens worked well to both create chances as well as break down Arsenal’s style of play down.
Arsene Wenger spoke about his thoughts on the match after the game and seemed very pleased with the performance that Arsenal put in. Wenger told Arsenal.com: “I’m very pleased because we had a very dynamic game. This team starts their season next week with ambition to come up to Ligue 1 again. It was a big atmosphere and all you can want to have a good preparation for the season. They played quick, sharp, well organised and closed us down and that’s better than having loose friendlies. I’m very pleased with the quality of our workout.”
I think from a fitness perspective Arsenal fans can be pleased with what they saw yesterday. The players were a little off key with aspects of their game such as first touch and finishing in the final third, but the Gunners seemed physically strong and didn’t slow down in the second half. Towards the end of the match it was Arsenal who were pressing on, whilst Lens looked tired from all their efforts of keeping Arsenal at bay. From a technicality point of view, the players were a bit rusty in their ability and it’s key that they all get a good pre-season going into the first fixture of the upcoming campaign. However it’s important to remember that pre-season games are more about gaining fitness rather than results.
Of course a lot of first team stars were missing from the game, whilst only the first crop of players that went to Euro 2016 have only just returned to light training. From those that did put a shift in, players who I was particularly impressed with are; Debuchy, Zelalem and Reine Adelaide. Walcott for me had another poorly average game, as did Chuba Akpom, whilst the Ox’s goal did show what he’s capable of.
I think overall even though Arsenal didn’t get the result yesterday, winning isn’t everything in pre-season and I think that we can be relatively pleased with how the majority of players are going to be working on their fitness going into the new campaign.