The Charlotte sunshine was almost unbearable.
We sat in the top tier fully exposed and routinely purchasing $5 bottles of water from the equally sad looking schoolkid who was lumbering around his grate of drinks in 90 degrees.
I think my gullibility was partially down to the warped idea that I was helping this poor chap by relieving him of the weight of his grate!
Therefore, $50 later and I should be upset that my wallet is empty but there were two lights that peaked out of the North Carolina sunshine that made it so worthwhile… Eddie and Joe.
Eddie Nketiah (as we found out post-game) has the option to go on loan or play for Arsenal Football Club.
We may sometimes not take pre-season friendlies seriously but he does not have this mentality.
His physical effort, constant runs (which I do not normally get to see on the couch) and his knack of making himself available in the box must be proving hard for the club to temporarily wave goodbye.
Joe Willock is even further ahead.
By the time August 11th comes around, I do not see Nketiah starting but with 3 CM’s absent, I can certainly see Willock starting.
Willock only played part of the second half but the contrast in his desire to impress compared to Burton, Olayinka and Xhaka was stark.
It was his body language.
He was just hungrier, more willing to work off the ball, open his hips and most impressively….break the lines on the dribble.
When I watch a youngster play, I try to imagine that they are a new signing.
If they were then we would be very excited at what he is doing as well as super impressed at his new and improved physique and consistent goal threat. We would be saying, “That £40M looks a bargain,” “He’s got the two things we lack in a midfielder… line breaking athleticism and goal threat.”
We would be excited.
Well, he is free and he is good. Could be very good. “But he’s just a youngster,” I hear you say.
So are Guendouzi and our shiny new signing, Saliba.
* Not the defence
* As well as Willock’s obvious gym visits, Saka has acquired a similar membership.
He seemed to be marked tightly every time he got possession but had impressive body strength for a 17 year old.
This is normally the first stick with which we beat a youngster. ‘He’s not physically ready for the PL’ we hear. Saka is giving himself every chance of being involved as he is marrying his danger feet in the final third with a determination to fight.
* Martinelli hardly touched the ball but his 40-yard run was electric.
* I was glad Emery switched to the 4-2-3-1 as the 3-4-3 was becoming a roadblock.
It relies too heavily on waiting for the full backs to get forward and overlap. The trouble is that with only two central players, it becomes very hard to play through the middle and the wide forwards are tucked between the lines in very tight areas. I felt for Saka and Nelson as they rarely received the ball and when they did, they were smothered and had their back to goal.
I do not see whom the 3-4-3 fits.
I’d rather a formation suit our array of attacking players who do better when they can breathe.
Perhaps if we sign a CB and partner with Sokratis and Holding then our back three does not look like the wacky races.
If we sign Tierney then perhaps his threat is greater than Kolasinac who only has the low cross as his threat.
* I was excited to meet Stuart McFarlane and David Price (club photographers) outside the Ritz Carlton before the game.
I was surprised that Stuart was kind enough to lift my spirits by telling me that “we should have 1-2 signings next week and maybe more,” after I cheekily asked him about incomings.
I think Arsenal Twitter were aware that this was likely so it was more of a sigh of relief that what is being reported is actually true.
My assumption is Saliba and Ceballos.
I was not so excited by the reaction I got when I put this out in a tweet. Wow! Some people are vicious.
I think I will keep it to myself next time 😳
* Again, both of our goalkeepers were close to faultless.
* Reiss Nelson did not have the time and space to flourish but on the one or two occasions he did (more centrally), he looked a handful. A box of creativity with very fast feet and the ability to twist out of trouble.
* Look out for the 1-touch combinations near the sideline to release our wing back. They did it twice in the first half so fluidly that it looked like a practiced passing pattern.
* The team that started the game was essentially the second string so I am not going to go over the top about the defence but … yikes!
The thing that stood out for me was lack of communication. Without this, nobody was taking responsibility. From this point on Skhodran Mustafi just makes some really playground errors. His body shape is all wrong and the ball becomes like a birthday present that he’s being taunted with.
Monreal and Chambers were less guilty but they over compensated, as I do not think they trusted Mustafi.
If 3-4-3 is an option then we will be signing at least one CB (for Koscielny) and as I have said previously…. I think our defence improves the minute Mustafi is not on the field. Signing a CB is secondary to me to just removing him from the selection process.
* The epidemic of the modern day central midfielder is receiving from CB’s and passing it straight back is grating when they have the option to turn.
Burton looks like a good player but also too frightened to turn. Xhaka is the bigger problem as he will play and is also reticent to turn.
* I have never realized that Mkhi is quite quick over two-three yards but has little acceleration over 5-10 yards. Like Xhaka, it was a little painful watching them run in sand over 10 yards.
* I agree that Xhaka will be made one of the captains. With the emergence of Willock, return of Guendouzi and Torreira and the potential arrival of Ceballos, I wonder how Xhaka gets in the team though.
For what it’s worth I think the ‘5 captains’ thing is being done for two reasons. Firstly, Emery recognizes that leaders are needed team-wide and so is using the multiple captains to create multiple leaders.
Secondly, I think he does not have one clear candidate that he thinks will play regularly enough to justify what all other teams do.
* That the rumours about Icardi and Moise Kean are not because one of Lacazette or Aubameyang are leaving to fund a winger.
* I have been scouring Europe in my head for a Centre Back.
I have been looking for teams that have an overload of CB’s and three teams’ standout…. Juventus, PSG and Barcelona.
I am wondering if we will wait to see if we can get Umtiti on loan.
With DeLigt and Demiral newly installed at Juve who will the odd man out be?
Bonnuci, Chiellini or Rugani?
Again, I wonder about a loan move for one of them.
Will the left footed CB that we need be Kimpembe at PSG?
Diallo has just signed for them and they have Silva and Marquinhos too.
* I think we will get Zaha. I think he is the first choice, expensive player Emery was talking about.
It is rare that a player who wants to go to one particular club and is wanted by that club is not ultimately transferred with some agreement finally reached.
If Iwobi is unsure about competing for a place, I say offer him and Jenkinson to CP, knock £30 M off the asking price, and give them another £30 M.
* I hope to see Nelson out wide in a 4-2-3-1. We haven’t seen it yet but I think we see a weapon if we do. Right now, I see a player just trying to retain possession, which is a waste of his creativity.
Have you been brave enough to put an 18 down on paper for our trip to Newcastle, yet?
I am trying to protect myself in case the signings do not happen.
Sod it, let’s dream…
Quality signings, hungry youngsters and balanced options on the bench.
And Joe and Eddie as captains!!!!!
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