By Tony Attwood
Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Monreal,
Walcott, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide,
On the beach: Macey, Gibbs, Bielik, Zelalem, Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Willock, Gnabry
This was of course a pre-season game – the first of the run – and a chance for some of the youngsters to stand out. However it was a very different sort of first pre-season from what we have got used to with games against Boreham Wood, Barnet and the like. Indeed consider this pre-season line from two years ago:
- Szczesny, Hayden, Jenkinson, Coquelin, Ajayi, Monreal, Zelalem, Willock. Sanogo, Toral, Ramsey
On the beach we had two years back we had…
Martinez, Gibbs, Pleguezuelo, Miquel, Bellerin, Akpom, Olsson, Afobe, Diaby, Rosicky, Flamini.
I think everyone who was on the bench came on at half time.
Now the point I want to make is just how many of those young players who were getting their first run out two years ago are now returning as much more solid players. Martinez, Coquelin, Akpom, Zelalem, Bellerin, Willock all played as youngsters two years ago and have come through to have something to offer now. A production line of six players making it through two years and being able to consider themselves preparing for, or actually already in, the first team. Extraordinary.
That doesn’t mean to say I would predict each one of the young please we saw tonight will make the transformation into a first team player, but it does show to me once again the power of the production line, and those players who are there are still there are there on merit.
So the suggestion I have made before that we will see at least one player of almighty significance come through, just as Bellerin, Coquelin and Iwobi have done in recent times, still seems to me to be valid. The transfer window will shut and we will still have one more new player to introduce. Or even two.
Out of the first half players I would say most performed up to expectations, within the context of this being a pre-season game, but I would mention:
Martinez: still a force to be reckoned with. He played 13 league games for Wolverhampton last season and eight for Rotherham. Presumably he is our fourth choice keeper, although he could be with Arsenal this coming season as our third keeper with Szczęsny being on loan.
Walcott: we all know that he lost his way towards the end of last season, but now he was back on the wing, and maybe that is right for him. It was the first pre-season match of course so we can’t expect superman but he was solid and had some good touches, suggestion the woes of the latter part of last season are behind him.
Reine Adelaide, now seemingly re-born as Adelaide looks like he is continuing to make progress. He could well be the one to emerge half way through the season and grab a place in the headlines.
As for the beached players coming on later:
Macey: presumably our fifth goalkeeper – have we ever had such goalkeeping depth before? He made one terrific save, and has already built himself quite a reputation at the club. How on earth do we keep him happy? We surely can’t keep four players at the club all season.
Zelalem: there were fears that in the second half of last season at Rangers he had lost it, but here, again allowing for the fact that it was a pre-season match he looked like his old self with deft touches and turns and the unexpected pass. He also looks quite a lot less fragile, which must the the result of the porridge.
Oxlade-Chamberlain: a real star turn – everything we have waited for him to become, but which seemed to be drifting further and further away from him. Sensational goal, superb performance for this early in the season.
Gnabry: he didn’t look as good as he was before WBA set out to destroy him, but he certainly looked good enough to be there. And he looked more calm. An impressive show.
Willock: one of the stars of the under 21 triumph last season; if you are not yet convinced take a look at this – and remember he is just 18.
So I’d say that was a rather encouraging start to the season – eight players above who for me exceeded expectations, and met my hopes.
A great start in fact, not least given that the French team were just one week away from the start of their season and we were playing our first pre-season match.
No sign though of Santi Caz. He must be injured, but there just isn’t any information around on this at all, which is a little strange. Let’s hope it is just a minor matter.
- Lens v Arsenal: the match preview; the team; comments as the season starts
- The Brickfields Gunners: A REAFFIRMATION OF FAITH
- No apology, no remorse, no honesty. Another day from the Arsenal covering football media.