Evening All, and it’s been an interesting couple of days down at the Emirates. For those of you who attended or watched the Emirates Cup this weekend, you would have been subject to a feast of football and some very exciting play going on. We saw the return of Rosicky, we saw the mercurial talent that is Jack Wilshere as well as the Spanish prodigy, which is Fran Merida.
The players who played in the different positions over the weekend were:
Sagna – Gallas – Djourou – Traore
Eboue – Silvestre – Song – Clichy
Denilson – Ramsey
Merida – Song
Wilshere – Rosicky – Bendtner
Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin
Bendtner – Merida – Sanchez Watt
If indeed Vermaelen was fit, we’d have seen exactly two different teams play – in the above list, you’ll notice the 4-2-3-1 formation which was deployed throughout this tournament and through the some of the previous friendlies too. It’s a formation that I expect Arsene to field for the majority this season having ended up with more attacking midfielders than strikers and strikers like Vela, Eduardo and Walcott who are comfortable in this formation too. Arsene has attempted through out the tournament to play Niklas Bendtner there too and we all know Van Persie players the attacking right side for his country.
So, let’s look through the team and how they faired individually.
The young Italian keeper has seen some action pre-season and as he is our third choice, a tournament like this is definitely useful for him as he gets more “big match” experience. He looked decent in between the sticks even if he did have a shaky handling moment or two. I’m happy for him to be third choice this season.
The Spanaird showed why he is number one with a commanding performance against Rangers. He pulled off some decent saves and commanded his area well, playing the sweeper keeper role he learnt from the Jens Lehmann days. Nothing in pre-season has really worried me, and I’m happy to see him go into the season as first choice. Fabianski has pressure from Mannone and both players will keep Almunia on his toes.
Deputising for Clichy, Traore showed that he has improved defensively during his time away. Still got caught very high up field and still a little naive in defence, positionally, he is certainly a decent squad member. A few games at the top level can turn him into a very good player, a la Gibbs. Although I would probably prefer to see Gibbs as deputy to Clichy, if Traore doesn’t go on loan, you may see more of him in that position. He did look a little leggy and I expect him to fair better as he gains more match practice.
The regular left back made an appearance as a substitute in the first game and looked good. His lack of recent playing time showed as it seemed that he overthought the game too much, giving away posession and a little lack of awareness. If I’m right, he’s had a niggling injury with his back recently, so I’d expect him to improve in the next week or so. Nothing to be worried about.
The Swiss stopper will have a renewed chance again with the departure of Kolo Toure. He played the first game from start to finish and looked solid. He attacked the ball well and it was good experience for him to be up against Deigo Forlana and Kun Aguero. The only blemish was that he seemed to go asleep for the goal we conceded, but then again, so did the whole defence.
In all honesty, very weird to see Gallas get so much playing time considering he is one of our oldest members of the squad. If I did this in Pro Evo or Championship Manager, he’d be on 50% by day 2, half time – which in reality is when Arsene subbed him. I have to say I was impressed by the performance that Gallas put in overall. He did look reassured, perhaps the sale of Toure giving him a mental boost that he is first choice along side one of Vermaelen or Djourou.
The ex-United player did have some time at the back and he looked okay – I don’t think he’s done much after an initial impressive set of games last season. He is one of those players whose stats are awesome – 100% tackle rate last season, but just worries me when on the pitch. I think he looked confused a little this tournament, but I may be prejudice because he’s an ex-United player, not sure about Silvestre – but more sure if he’s our fourth choice.
Sagna looked very solid throughout the tournament – he didn’t give any of the Athletico team a look in and was also a very decent attacking threat. Definitely our number one right back, not much more needs to be said.
Eboue was seen up front, on the wings and at right back and whilst I don’t maintain that the Ivorian is a starter, he certainly does bring something to the team. An adequate back up for Sagna and also a great dribbler (maybe because of his pace) – he still showed that he has the occasion misplaced pass and a dive or two in him, but I’m glad that he’s still around and do see a good role for him this season.
I do prefer Song in the defensive midfield role to the central defender role, although my opinion does change on every game. He did play in both positions during the tournament and it was good to see him in both roles. I think he was pretty good against Athletico, good tackling and good passing. I’d like to see him play in midfield, but do see Arsene’s point that he is a back up defender too.
Not one of his best games / tournaments. He had very good work rate, and always has, but he gave the ball away too much – quite contrary to the stat that saw him one of the Premiership’s best passers last season. Food for thought as it’s potentially the lack of experience talking. There certainly is more to come from Denilson, but let’s hope we see it sooner.
A delightful performance from the young Spanaird – he certainly didn’t look out of place. A decent work rate and very good passing vision, setting up Eduardo for his goal with a pinpoint “eye of a needle” pass. Announcing himself as more than a youngster, I’m sure we’ll see more of him this year. If he has even half the impact Cesc did, then we’ve got another player in the midfield to utilise – another reason not to strengthen, but Merida does look comfortable anywhere across the midfield.
He put in a good performance, and looks much better than the player that joined us last season. He looked natural amongst the other players in the squad and a great peice of vision to set up Wilshere’s second goal on the Sunday. Of course, he would have grown in experience since last season, and we’ll see more of him this year without a doubt.
Looking sharp. Two words that sum up Cesc’s performance over the two days. Cesc looked like he has had a decent pre-season despite starting a little later than everyone. He is very influential and you can see that he’s maturing very nicely. I think the captain is ready for the next season.
Our best player in the first half of the first game – the Czech international looked very exciting, with a disallowed goal as well as some very good intricate play. Can’t wait to see more of him throughout the season.
Wow, there is nothing that will faze this youngster and nothing that stop him either. He is certainly beyond his years and if he doesn’t play at least 20 games this season in some capacity, I’ll eat my hat. He will be an Arsenal legend without doubt. It puzzles me a little to see so much talent in one player, so young. Jacktastic.
The Russian keeps getting better – he is a truly world class player. If the player doesn’t get injured then we stand a very good chance of all the silverware available. One of Arsene’s best buys and the player has only been with us for 6 months! His two goals on Saturday were two goals that were “that” good. Very good, impossible goals and he has that in his locker. Arshavin is a player that will strike fear into his opponents, remember how Thierry did that? Brilliant to have someone do this again! (PS, I think Rosicky also has the fear factor, especially when he belts it from 35 yards!)
After so long out, the fact that Eduardo is still so good, so clinical is a testimony to the player and what he’s all about. He scored a goal with a great finish and also threw in a few great touches, pass rounds and even a nutmeg or two. True class.
Disappointed this tournament and looked his usual clumsy self. I don’t know when he will turn into a great player but at the moment he does look like the most inexperienced player we’ve got up front, and needs some work. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not the worst player we’ve had (Adebayor has now left) but I hope to see Eduardo and Van Persie starting as the first two choice strikers with Bendtner playing a back up role.
Captain on the first day and Van Persie is another dangerous player. If he can stay fit, we all know he is a player that can change a game in a moment. His performance on day one looked good, he showed some good touches – surely due a free kick this season?
Sanchez Watt is a player who had made a brilliant impression at youth level. He has the stature and movement that we’ve lost in Adebayor and I’m happy to have him in and around the first team. He was involved in Wilshere’s second goal and looked comfortable in the wide attacking role. Another player that may break through this season.
Along with our players, a few impressive performances from the opposition, with Sakho (linked with Arsenal) looking a good bet in central defence, as well as PSG’s central midfielder Stéphane Sessegnon. Both players catching the eye, but both ones for the future… we managed to keep Aguero quite, but I think the Argentinian striker will go on this season to show why he one of the best out there.
Okay, there’s my review. More tomorrow… til then…
And if you’re not already doing so, remember, you can follow The World of Arsenal on Twitter… https://twitter.com/worldofarsenal