The Winners and losers of Arsenal’s pre-season so far….

Winners and losers of pre-season so far. by Konstantin Mitov

Hello again lovely Arsenal people! We just played Chelsea in Dublin and managed to get to an equalizer with the last kick of the game and then we won our penalty shootout – in a stark contrast to the Atletico game. It’s still preseason, but there were a few worrying things still. The defense looked shaky again.

So let’s jump straight to the losers so far and we have to start with Hector Bellerin. Poor again. Easily turned by a Chelsea youngster, gave away a silly penalty and he was supposed to be one that would thrive under Emery and so far he was less than impressive. The big worry is Lichtsteiner has just returned to training and it’s very unlikely we’ll see him start against City, but on current form Sane would just roast Bellerin.

The other one is Sokratis and although the jury is still out, his lack of pace is a big worry considering we’re likely to put Mustafi next to him. Once Torreira makes his debut in the squad, we’ll have a glimpse of what our defensive setup will be like as the defence doesn’t come just from the back 5, but so far the Greek and our overall defensive performances haven’t been great.

Moving on to the winners so far, there is a clear favourite here and that’s Guendouzi. The guy is such a talent. What i most like about him is his forward thinking. Always looking up and ahead. We’ve had so many sideway players, I honestly forgot how exciting a midfielder can be with his vision. The guy doesn’t lack composure either and he seems so confident for a young lad. He’s really knocking on the door of the first team and so far I’d start him against City as he’s been the standout player.

Another winner that’s been kind of in the shadows is Petr Cech. I’ve been very critical of him, because of the mistakes he made last season, but since Leno has come, Cech has opted to fight for his place and he’s done it in style. He even saved some penalties. Is this due to the new coaching staff? I don’t know but I like the improvement.

The next winner is Mesut Ozil. After the poor season and world cup and all the scandals, Ozil has looked quite good for us in pre-season. We’ll need a major season from him if we’re to return to the top 4.

The last winner is Alex Lacazzete who looks very sharp. He gets in the right positions and if he gets an injury free season I can easily see him scoring 20 goals. The question is if we could somehow pair him up with Aubameyang as Emery doesn’t really like 2 strikers going forward.

Overall I keep reiterating the point that we need to make the best of the squad we have, not stick to a system for the sake of it. We’ve looked dangerous in attack even with the rotations, but it’s the defence that’s still is a major worry and it’s also harder to fix.

In terms of players, we’re still a commanding CB short, and I wonder what about the LB position? Rumours are Emery might sell Nacho to fund money for another move, but I don’t get this one. We also need a proper winger. Mikhi and Auba are not natural wingers. The Dembele rumours are lurking but I don’t see it happening. Even if we offer Ramsey, we’re still 80 million short of what they paid for him and we don’t spend that kind of money.

Hopefully we’ll be surprised with at least another signing as right now I feel like it’s necessary. I really hope we take a good start. Two defeats and we’ll be back to the negativity of last season in a flash and nobody needs this. Moving on to Lazio in Stockholm next.



  1. Tatgooner says:

    this should be our line up v city based on form
    lichtsteiner chambers mavropanos monreal
    guendozi torreira xhaka
    ozil laca aubameyang

    If there is one thing i want to see absolutely deleted and forgotten from the wenger era is playing favourites
    i dont want to see us putting on players simply because they cost much or still live in their previous hype.
    emery needs to be ruthless

    1. Innit says:

      I like that too.
      I think both Torreira and Guendouzi could cover up holes in defense and hopefully Lichtsteiner can be better than Bellerin. Bellerin is simply not good enough

    2. Maks says:

      Huh, our CB positions are still up in the air.
      Hope somebody there will shine and get on level as the rest of the team.

    3. AY75 says:

      Based on form?!, you’ve not seen five of those players play this season, how do you know what kind of form they’re going to be in?…. the line up looks good, but I replace one of the CBs with Mustafi……. and given we’re not sure of what kind of performance to expect from Xhaka, I think Mkhitaryan should play as well….. The formation could be altered to accommodate the best performers in training before our opening game against city….. I hope we’re able to pick 4 points from our first 2 games, then we can find our rhythm from then onwards.

    4. Things are changing says:

      Xhaka? That’s a surprise. I am not sure if he is ready or will ever be able to claim a first team place. I like the idea of pairing Guendozi with Torriera but I doubt Torreira is ready to start against City.

    5. john hodges says:

      constatin not a bad comment,but i dont agree about ölstin he was not that good so far.

  2. Innit says:

    Ive been happy with Guendouzi, Rowe, Cech, Aubameyang and Lacazette and Emery for getting Torreira

    Not happy with Bellerin (hopefully Lichtsteiner will be better), Sokratis hasn’t impressed me (but Jury still out). Our defense overall needs to improve

  3. Sagemode says:

    Interesting piece Konstantin! I worry so much about that defence too as for now i do t trust sokratis! Matteo is really good even though i noticed he always comes from deep playing in that 10 role if im correct but then we still lack that cazola-ish kind of creativity in the team. No offense to Ozil though. Iwobi seems to have the skills and speed but would need alot of consistency. Auba and Laca will really do well, im skeptical about Mhiki tho. Anyways Im getting behind the team! #COYG…#EmeryEra

  4. Break-on-through says:

    I thought Iwobi looked sharp when he came on yesterday, we looked more dangerous when he came on for Smithy who seems to have lost his will to shoot on sight. Iwobi looked more mature, he also looked stronger, quicker, put himself about more. So well done Iwobi keep the effort going. I agree with the choices made in the article, would’ve liked to have seen more from CC at CB but we’ll have to wait and see what Emery does with him. I don’t mind utility players but we need more specialists at the back. Guendouzi looked good, but I think people might be over doing it a wee bit. He has that confidence which is great but you can tell it will lead him to make some lapse decisions when in possession. A little over confident at times. He done good, but he’s not been the beast that people are making him out to be. He stays deep mostly, knows his position, and likes to try and get the ball forward quickly. I wouldn’t say he looks an automatic starter, he might just give Xhaka the needed jolt before trying to up the ante with his own game. Cannot wait to see Torriera!!! Also preseason has went well for our youngsters, Nketiah, Smith, Niles, Nelson, the game time should give them a taste, a desire.

    1. antbadapple says:

      Like it!

  5. Midkemma says:

    While I will agree Bellerin had a horrid time against the Chelsea youngster, I do think it is harsh to just put it down to Bellerin being poor and not recognising that the lad is a talent and shown his hunger.

    Bellerin did show slight improvement up till Chelsea IMO, he looks to be working hard and if anyone thinks that it’ll be a couple weeks to improve the tactical knowledge of playing in def then I fear they are mistaken.

    It’ll take time, watch over the course of the season before writing any def player off, if the player has the desire to improve then Emery needs the chance and time to do his magic.

    I actually thought that Kola played worse than Bellerin, it was frustrating to see a pair of strong but lacking agile people on our left, they couldn’t cover each other and that for me has been a bigger issue… Sokratis has done nothing so far to give me hope. Got to keep in mind that the communication isn’t great which we seen when Cech wanted the ball laid for his left foot but Sokratis knocked it out.

    I have been impressed with Chambers in CB, he looked good at RB as well, Chambers appears to be jumping on every chance Emery is giving him.

    The Chelsea game shown what I have been saying all along about Auba, he isn’t the CF we need while looking to dominate, he is an attacker that we want to get in behind the CF in attacking movements and this has been done well as a inside forward.

    Laca is the better CF unless we wish to sit back and hit teams on the counter, space to knock the ball in behind Auba to run onto… Rather than moving our players forward and removing that space that Auba thrives at running into. Auba best opportunity was running into the space which he missed the ball on a tap in. Have Laca in CF role to pull CBs around while also being a deadly goal threat.

    1. GunnerJack says:

      Bellerin needs to improve on his tactical knowledge of playing in defence NOW! In fact he should ALREADY know what’s needed. Suggesting we give him a whole season to learn how to do his job is ridiculous.

      1. Things are changing says:

        I don’t think Bellerin was ever properly taught the basics of defending. That was not Wenger’s way.

  6. jon fox says:

    As a lifelong realist who always lives in the real Arsenal world, I have never expected miracles and am content that firstly we have a man in who believes in the concept of defence as a necessary part of a successful balance in any team. I do not underestimate the importance of that point, as Wenger was a disgraceful avoider of all defensive cohesion, defensive coaching or any real interest in it at all. That is why he refused to bring in a quality DM for a decade , whereas Emery has now brought in both Torreira and Guendouzi who both look quality. I also deeply understand how big a task Emery has when all the defensive deadwood Wenger left behind are stll here and on contracts paying far too much wages for their poor ability. No manager can sell all the deadwood over one summer BUT I am content that Emery has already identified the worst defensive areas and will cure them as soon as it is possible, given the moths in Kroenkes wallet and having to shop at Lidl and not Harrods, as City and United can do. EMERY ALONG WITH SVEN AND RAUL ARE PROFESSIONALS AND WELL KNOW THE SIZE OF THEIR NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TASK. I am convinced that as the season unfolds, a distinct improvement will take place and clearly already has taken place in hunger, desire and organisation. But any coach can only do so much with sub par players, of which we still have plenty. Until he has adequate chance and resources to replace these with better players, we mature realists -which does NOT mean just older fans, as I am, but many younger ones too who seek out truth and forsake foolish hype – will continue to understand the size of the task before Emery and Co and give our full support as he starts his task to rid us of Wengers mildew and bring in fresh blood, untainted by pampering and favouritism. Go , go, go Emery!

    1. kstixx says:

      bless your Old heart for this comment Jon. couldn’t have said it any better… I’m fine if we don’t make top 4 this season or win anything just as long as we improve on last season especially in the area of tactics which wenger lacked. we can see what needs readjusting at the end of the season. I’m in full support of emery… win, lose or draw

  7. Herbert Angelo Bouyer says:

    I would add Ainsley Maitland-Niles to the list of winners.
    He has shown himself to be both versatile and reliable.
    Also, he stood tall in both penalty shoot-outs.

    Take a bow, lad!!!!!!!!

  8. kev says:

    Barcelona have rejected a loan move for us for Ousmane Dembele.They want cash in full plus since this is the case we can’t afford him and also the salary.

    I remember I also said a month ago that contrary to reports that Lucas Perez will stay he’d be leaving to Lazio.The deal won’t happen now.He will still move to Italy after rejecting Newcastle.

    We will sell Mustafi for €30m if any club offers that and shall replace him.

    We still in the market for a winger and the links to Domenico Berardi are very very true.Why we didn’t go for Lozano all this while is beyond me.

    1. Maks says:

      Kev, tell me please, where are the funds we almost splashed for Lemar in this crazy deadline day bid?
      Is somethng like this possible now?
      If we sell Mustafi we can buy some proper CB. I would rather do that then chase the winger… seems more cruical for our mental health. 🙂

      1. Joey Mack says:

        Two thirds of Lemar’s (crazy) prize was to have come from the sale of Alexis to Man City, which in the end didn’t happen.

  9. Arsene is Out says:

    We had a budget and we spent it as best as we could. This is what we could afford and I think for the money we got some excellent players. Torreira from what i have seen in the WC will be a star for us, Guendouzi is an extremely talented youngster and could be our best deal of the window.
    Lichtsteiner for free is a masterful coup and will provide mentorship and competition for Bellerin.
    Sokratis and Leno are decent choices and to be fair it could go either way with both of them. They could be excellent – mediocre or awful. The jury is out on both. But for the money they seem to offer good value.
    If Ramsey signs and we could offload some deadwood and get a pacy winger it would be a pretty complete window.
    The youngsters are coming good as well, which is pretty sweet.
    Overall this team’s performance will depend more on what Emery can get out of this group then their individual talents.

  10. Declan says:

    Cech looks better than I’ve seen him before in an Arsenal shirt.
    Mustafi has played better in all the friendlies compared with last season.
    Guendouzi has been the outstanding player in my opinion. I like the way he patrols the area in front of the back 4 picking off balls and his range of passing is amazing. Yes he lost possession a few times but had a very high pass completion. Long, short, sideways, forward, or 50 yards across field. The lad has got talent. I’ve not been so optimistic about a young player since Fabragas first burst on the scene as a 16 year old. I’m thinking he may well start in the first team sooner rather than later.

    1. Maks says:

      Guendouzi should start with Torreira in the midfield. It is time to be brave and give him a chance asap.

      1. Declan says:

        I agree 100%

  11. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    I want you to be calmed and remain calmed not to be worrying much. For, let me assure you that the Arsenal defense-line that you watched and got afraid for it’s looking shaky against Chelsea at the ICC in Stockholm yesterday night at the Aviva Stadium will stabilised to stopped being shaky before the Gunners take on Man City in the new PL season opening match encounter at the Ems on the 12th of this month.

    The Arsenal defense-line that you saw being shaky is a defense-line work in progress by Unai Emery, the new Arsenal manager. True, Bellerin looked shaky against Chelsea’s Odio who twisted and turned him easily in that match. But that kind of twisting and turning by the youth pacey winger, Odio should be an experience for Bellerin to adjust and deal with such occurrence of twisting and turning him on the cheap again by any fast attacking winger. Not even by Leroy Sane of Man City would Bellerin allowed himself to be twisted and turned again. Meanwhile, let’s watch how he’ll fair in the Lazio game to see if he has learnt anything to adjust in his defensive frailties if he’ll played in the match.

    1. GunnerJack says:

      Bellerin cannot cope with any ‘twisting and turning’ winger, let alone a good one like young Odio. He never has and I’m not sure he ever will. Hope we start Lichtsteiner against City. If not Sane will think it’s his birthday.

  12. Tas says:

    I thought Chambers was outstanding he didn’t put a foot wrong and what great passes he was like a new player, I much rather he was playing then Belerin

    1. Durand says:

      I agree absolutely Tas. I think Emery has shown faith in the player, offered new contract and explained how his future looks hopefully.

      Compare that to sitting bench for weeks, play RB, sent on loan to play as CB, comes back to Arsenal and manager sends him back to bench. Meanwhile Kos and Mustafi are playing shocking football, real amateurish stuff.

      No surprise to me he is now progressing under a manager who actually gives a damn about defending, coaches Chambers and challenges him.

      Honestly not surprised if Chambers and Mustafi are paired together against City. Papa best tighten up or Chambers WILL take that CB spot.

      1. Durand says:

        Also, for Chambers lack of pace he handled that Hudson kid miles better than Bellerin. Bit concerning for Bellerin; without his advantage of speed he is beginning to get found out as average to below average defender.

        A lot of work shaping and training squad defensively. Shocking how much has been ignored for years.

  13. Pauladonis says:

    For a team of arsenal’s stature, especially when it comes to the history, its a real shame what the defence has become. Imagine that hudson odoi kept taking bellerin, an arsenal first team player on a spin, and he is not even a chelsea first team player, now imagine bellerin against sane. I believe Emery should by all means consider more reinforcements in every position along the backline or he will have an insurmountable task of turn the current lads into anything other than cannon fodder for the opposition.

  14. Sue says:

    I read earlier that Torreira will play on Saturday ? can’t wait!

  15. rkw says:

    us or chelsea is going to be the one to watch … like us they have new manager no big spend keeping much of the same squad … 7 point gap to close and that includes them being hammered on last day and us winning our ONE away game … thats the litmus test and will probably benough for a top 4 given that spurs dont appear to be moving ahead … cant say i am confident we will after yday unless we bring in someone next week … but it will be at least enjoyable just watching emery try unlike the last lost decade

  16. Shahriar says:

    Our defence still has problem!

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