So the tour got off to a good start. The 2 – 0 win came with many positives, not least the players comfort with three at the back. The young players, in particular Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, had good games. Given time on the ball, they willingly exploited space in attack and were quick to support the forwards.
The headline maker should be the referee for a terrible decision in awarding a penalty because the ball struck a player’s back. Astonishingly, he gave the kick because he was certain it struck the defender’s hand. Had it done so, it was certainly in an unnatural position.
Danny Welbeck’s penalty wasn’t. An easy save, comfortable height; only Mesut Özil could have hit it with the same precision. The appetite for ‘justice’ sated, the moment didn’t spoil the occasion. Per Mertesacker scored possibly the most acrobatic goal – and for a bloke of 9′ 10, it counts as acrobatic – of his career; not that it counts in the records.
The same applies for Alexandre Lacazette, although as a striker his finish probably works on a psychological level; easing the burden of waiting for the first goal and all that. It was well-taken, calmly side-footed into the net which bodes well from the perspective of settling into a new routine.
That Arsène made wholesale changes with twenty minutes to go, giving everyone a runout (or nearly everyone) and with a busy tour – and more important games – ahead, the same philosophy will no doubt apply on Saturday. I’d guess that the line-up will largely swap at the weekend with the late substitutes starting.
Wenger spoke afterwards and was happy with the youngsters,
They all did well today, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock as well had a very strong performance. They are young, just 17 or 18 years old, so that is very promising.
Which is true. I’m sure some people will look at their performances and tell you how well the lads have progressed from the time when they were in nappies. To be honest, I’m not interested in that kind of over-analysis – or maybe ovary-analysis suits better – just that the players did well in the circumstances.
Wenger noted he takes that the players are “very close” to being ready for the first team. Is he bitten by history in Willock’s case? Matthew left for United while in 2014 he was impressed with Chris; now Joe is falling into the same category. Some claim he is the best of the trio but I seem to recall people raving about Chris in much the same way.
As I say, no complaints about yesterday’s game and the players are more comfortable with three centre backs. Nelson offers the prospect of cover for Bellerin, hastening the exits of Debuchy and Jenkinson. The latter is (apparently) interesting Newcastle, along with Kieran Gibbs.
The convoluted nature of transfers means that trio, among others, are probably already in talks with other clubs, safe in the knowledge they aren’t going to even make the bench this season. That’s before you remember Mustafi and Chambers can both play at full back.
Hit The Road Jack
Bellerin, with six years remaining on his contract, has “been told” he isn’t leaving and a strongly worded letter was sent to Barcelona. Arsenal, it said, were very angry indeed – super angry, if you like – and we’d be jolly cross if they didn’t stop tapping our player up. So cross that we’d write another strongly worded letter to UEFA, FIFA or whoever, telling them how jolly cross we are about the Spaniards tapping our player up.
Xavi, a player they all look up to, basically told Hector to “do one” and he’s not welcome back in the Camp Nou because he left at 16, which is supposedly them ending their interest in Hector until next summer.
As Bellerin stays, Jack is on his way. Sampdoria looked at the club, fondly remembered Liam Brady and then decided Wilshere is the man for them. Apparently, they can have him for £9m and a return of his wheelchair; we left a deposit on it.
That’s it for today. It’s the weekend which means a new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox and another pre-season friendly.