Well, lovely Arsenal people, we beat Chelsea 4-0. It’s only a pre-season friendly, so the result doesn’t matter that much, but there are a few things to take away.
We looked fitter and more determined to win than Chelsea. We looked more like the team that knows it’s best 11. Chelsea were pretty poor and that was far from their best squad. Obviously they are going to sign more players and playing them in the league will be much more different, but as of right now, we should be targeting that 3d position in the league next season.
Our starting 11 looks really nice. Bill Saliba is a player that I’d like to see start against Palace. His stature and composure are unbelievable for a player aged 21. The famous Wenger quote “like a new signing” is somewhat true here.
The actual new signings of Jesus and Zinchenko fit in straight away too. I’m glad we got cover for Tierny and if I’m honest I think he’ll have a tough fight to get his spot back. His injury record is not great and that cost us last season.
In the Premier league nowadays, every position counts. Full backs are vitally important. Look at TAA and Robertson at Liverpool. Cancelo at man City is a game changing player. We covered left back, but I’m looking at the right side and I’m worried.
Tomi won’t be fit to play at Crystal Palace and I suspect it’ll be Ben White at RB. While that’ll give us better control of the ball I’m worried about dealing with the likes of Zaha. We start the season in 12 days against Palace and we only managed 1 point off of them last season.
So I’d like to see us go and buy a proper RB. It’s highly unlikely, but this would tell me that we are dead serious about not leaving any potential holes in the squad.
The other position that can obviously be upgraded is Granit Xhaka. I know he’s a great character and he’s very liked in the team and every manager loves him, but if we upgrade him, we’ll be a damn proper side. The other reason I really want a new midfielder is that we’re just one Thomas Partey injury away from big Mo starting every week.
We’ve all heard the names – Tielemans, Paqueta, Milinkovic-Savic, I’d take any one of those, with the Belgian being the obvious choice, due to his PL experience and being the cheapest option as well.
Another winger is also something to look for. There’s no real cover for Saka and Martinelli. Smith-Rowe scored a good amount of goals last season, but the overall threat and work rate of the previous two makes them clear starters.
Then there’s Pepe, where it just hasn’t worked out. A good player in my opinion, but just doesn’t suit what the manager wants. Looking at it this way, I understand why we bid for Raphina. I will probably repeat myself here, but too much pressure fell on Saka last year.
He’s a generational talent, but having the cameras pointed at a 20 year old player when we don’t win is not right. Foden is impressing at City, but he’s surrounded by experienced players and we lacked that last year.
To top it off, in a dream world, another striker is also on the list. Ivan Toney for me, would be a very good signing, just to have the option to whip balls in the box and actually have a target to hit.
That said, we’ll hardly see more than 2 more come in and for me a CM, then a Winger or a right back is what is top priority. The problem with bringing players in is that our squad is too big.
I look at the Arsenal on tour videos and there’s Bellerin, a player who obviously doesn’t want to be here, on massive wages that we’re struggling to move on. AMN is another player who’s time here is done for me. Remember when Wolves were giving us 20 million pounds for him?
We didn’t take them and now we have a problem. I remember a MoTM performance against City in the FA cup, playing as a full back. That was his chance to grab that position and make it his own, but he wants midfield and he’s not good enough for us there.
Then there is Pablo Mari. We don’t have a left sided CB apart from Gabriel, but if you have to select 4 CB for this season, who would they be? Gabriel, White, Saliba and?
It’s probably Holding
, although that’s another player that has some really good performances and some shockers. We even won an FA cup with Holding and Mertesacker as our two CB a few years back. The odd good performance is not enough reason to keep a player though.
Midfield is another area where we have a lot of players, yet we need to improve. If we play the same game of name 4 CM, ideally I want – Partey, a new signing like Tielemans, Xhaka and Elneny in that picking order.
Torreira will probably leave. He didn’t settle in England very well, he’s mentioned it a few times and we should be moving him on. I think there’s a player in Sambi Lokonga, but a loan might be good for him. Nuno Tavares should also be loaned, or straight out sold. Going forward there’s an argument for him, but defensively he cost us a few times.
Finally the goalkeeping situation is a funny one. We’re trying to move on Leno, but in reality I’d keep him. Seeing how Matt Turner let one fly in the middle of his goal gave me Runarsson vibes. There’s a reason why keepers are expensive, I’ll tell you that. I’d keep Leno if we could, as I think Ramsdales second half of the season wasn’t as good as his first. Preseason as well, I’ve not been overly impressed, but sadly I think we’ll roll the dice here and let the German leave.
Overall that’s a lot of players to move out – Leno, Torreira, Mari, AMN, Bellerin and Pepe. Then loan Nuno and possibly Sambi and Balogun as well. That’s 6 to 9 players which can massively reduce our wage bill and if we can recoup 30 mills for them, that’s enough for Tielemans already.
Overall, I like how our pre-season has looked so far, I can’t lie. Edu and Arteta seem to be aware of what’s needed, now it’s time to open the Kroenke checkbook and get it done. I’ve fallen victim to the preseason hype train before though, but all that matters is the game at Selhurst Park. We need to hit the ground running. We missed the top 4 by 2 points. Were we better prepared to face Brentford at the start of last season, who knows where we would’ve been right now?
It’s all ifs and butts, and we shouldn’t be dwelling on the past, but just learn our lesson and be ready. In my job, we are thought that if anything is possible to fail, it will, and we should be prepared to handle it.
Please Arsenal, do the same and add the missing pieces!