Fiorentina 0 – 3 Arsenal
This morning’s headline always contained a musical bent. Had La Viola turned up in their famous purple kits, Jimi Hendrix was unleashed with a Purple Haze reference; The Undertones will just have to do.
The young guns knuckled down and impressed as they stood toe-to-toe with the Italians, to the extent that the usual suspects are the ones we remain concerned about. Unai underlined in his post-match conference where the problems lie.
We worked last year with both systems and changed it a lot because of the quality of players. Sometimes we need to protect the full-backs.
We tried last year to play with four and three. Now I want to be working with both systems because sometimes we can achieve a very big performance with Monreal and Kolasinac playing together.
Playing a back four with Monreal at centre-back, it’s not the best position for him. Kolasinac I want to improve his performances in all but above all, we are working to be strong in a four.Refreshing honesty from Unai Emery about our left-back problems
There’s no surprise with his views that we are keen to sign Tierney. Celtic’s PR win over negotiations means only signing the Scot allows Arsenal to ‘come out of it well’. Kolasinac’s defensive work must be a pale shadow of his time at Schlake when he finished in the Bundesliga team of the season. Either that or the German league’s left-backs were bloody awful.
Maybe he got there for his attacking work? Last night, he provided another assist and his repertoire of barreling runs down the left shows no signs of ending. However, with our woes last season, it’s the defensive side of our game which needs attention.
And there’s no doubt that Unai Emery knows it.
Litany of Errors
At this point, I could rattle on about Mustafi but what’s the point? His confidence is shot to pieces; his problems are both based in and compounded by a litany of errors which bedevil his Arsenal career. And most certainly undermine any attempt to claim a sizeable fee. The money paid for him is irrecoverable unless we take a leaf out of Herbert’s book and get any suitors drunk as lords.
Better, I think, to focus on the youngsters. Eddie Nketiah, fresh from grabbing the winner over Bayern, scored a brace of well-worked goals. His finishing was excellent and a step up from last season’s first XI appearances.
According to reports, he decided against a loan spell, believing his career is better served by staying at Arsenal. Fair play to the striker. He knows his time will come in the Premier League as a substitute or in the domestic cups. He will get more time than last season; let’s hope he’s got the patience to continue developing at Arsenal’s pace.
The youngster who impressed the most last night and previously is Joe Willock. Given his age and experience, there’s little to be concerned about his development. He, I genuinely believe, is the most promising talent of his generation at the club. While others look at Nelson and Smith Rowe, Willock shows better awareness of his role in the team.
But that’s to get ahead of myself, to be too excited. This is only pre-season, not the real thing; reading too much into performances, individually and collectively, is a fool’s errand and sets you (me) up for nothing more than disappointment.
See My Baby Chive
The ‘takeaways’ from this tour, so far, are two-fold. Firstly, as much as we are rightly concerned by the problems at the back, the youngsters are a ray of hope for the future. With the squad as it is, I can’t see us finishing higher than fifth or sixth but with the right additions, you never know.
The second is that we no longer have the most embarrassing second or third kit this season. Manchester City’s rhubarb and custard outfit is among the worst I’ve ever seen on a football pitch. And I’ve seen a lot of kits in my forty-odd years of watching the game.
Watching the game is likely to be Alex Iwobi’s byword this season; watching the game from the bench if reports of Everton Soares undertaking a medical on Tuesday are correct. Busy time for the club with Saint-Etienne’s president confirming Willy Saliba undergoing his medical the same day.
Soares, I assume, will play wide, competing with Alex Iwobi for a place in the starting line-up. And Wilf Zaha, a deal which refuses to succumb to financial logic. Palace rebuffed a £40m offer, considering it derisory; adding Elneny, Mustafi and Jenkinson hardly makes it more attractive. Iwobi may sway them a little more.
Whenever I see him with Nigeria – which is, I freely admit, not very often outside major tournaments – he seems happier. The team’s tactics suit him more. You might argue that we need to adapt ours to bring out the best of him at club level. However, if we won’t do that to suit £350k per week Pat Butcher lookalikes, we certainly aren’t going to do it for Alex Iwobi.
Street Fighting Man
Which is something of a shame because when he isn’t trying to force the game or subduing his attacking verve, Iwobi is a joy to watch. He is – and isn’t – concerned by talk of Zaha:
I am up for the fight.
The only time I would consider leaving is if I am not playing as much as I would like to.
Obviously, my joy is to play football and not just sit out. If it comes to that I would have no choice but to leave. But I would always put up a fight to play – that is what I have done all my life.
We have big stars already, so by adding another one I’ll just have to prove I can do better than them.Alex Iwobi tells it like it is
His attitude is as you would expect but will he be able to prove it? Talk of Zaha handing in a transfer request is somewhat fanciful, I fear. More people seem to represent Wilf than Joel Campbell; maybe we need to recall Dick Law to sort this out…
Elsewhere, Dani Ceballos is likely to be moving to north London soon with Real and the player both believing a year-long loan deal is best for both parties. Claims of an option to buy are dismissed in the Spanish media this weekend with, apparently, the club and player believing he can make it at the Bernabeu. Real heading their bets? They must have more land to sell to the city council to bolster transfer funds…
Zidane mentioned Gareth Bale is on his way to a “new team”. To Arsenal? Not sure but anything which sticks in the Swamp Dwellers throats can’t be a bad thing, can it?