Admittedly I’ve shied away from Pre-Season Friendly analysis, my opinion is that they shouldn’t be scrutinised too greatly as ultimately their main purpose is to ‘tune’ the players, and bring them back up to speed. However, the Emirates Cup is the best opportunity to gauge progress made over summer whilst analysing other European sides.
RB Leipzig 0-1 Sevilla – in all honesty I didn’t watch this game, but it the result is very unsurprising based on what I did see of the two sides.
Arsenal 5-2 Benfica
Benfica aren’t a great side, and I can’t help but think they wouldn’t of been invited if without being sponsored by Emirates seeing as they participated in 2014 (when they also finished bottom). They have a couple of decent players and of course a reputation for producing quality players (Eusebio, di Maria and Man. City’s recent signing Ederson for example), but didn’t come across as anything particularly impressive, although remember, these are only pre-season games.
Arsenal were solid in the second half, Walcott looked sharp – and has done all pre-season, I doubt he will blow us away this season though, and predict that he’ll have a typical ‘Walcott’ season, with plenty of quiet performances, 10 or so well taken goals and some glimpses of what could of been, I do think he could be potent in our new system though. Iwobi is a player that needs to step up this season, and the Europa League could prove to be a platform to grow his confidence and prove his ability, his goal was well taken. Defensively we were pretty poor.
Reiss Nelson was probably the highlight of the affair, the 17 year old could have a bright future and seemed close to first team quality. Mbappe showed last season that faith in youth can provide the goods, and whilst we shouldn’t expect to see him feature regularly just yet, the Europa League could again prove helpful and he needs first team action.
Benfica 0-2 RB Leipzig
Now I did watch this match. RB Leipzig impressed me, they were much more calculated and efficient going forwards than Benfica, who’s slow style seemed lethargic at times. Oliver Burke caught my eye, a strong tall and quick winger he could have a bright future. Disappointing not to see Keita. Willock came on for Benfica and looked good, I hope he goes onto have a good career.
Arsenal 1-2 Sevilla
Sevilla I think were playing their first eleven, whereas Arsenal weren’t, Sevilla were the better side and deserved the 2-1 win. Both goals included questionable defending (notably the first goal El Neny didn’t track his man – who happened to score, not sure playing him at centre back is the tactical masterstroke some are saying it is) Nzonzi’s strike for the second was superb though. It was nice to see Lacazette score, and I’m sure the club shop tills were swelling after that. Lacazette wasn’t really too involved, but I guess it’s just a friendly.
So Arsenal managed to win the competition despite losing to Sevilla who won both games, the Emirates Cup is as my mate put it is ‘set up for Arsenal to win’ and really felt that way as it was announced we magically won the tournament. The point per goal rule is only there to help Arsenal win and it didn’t feel like a deserved victory at all. The event as a whole is only there as a clever money making trick, merchandise sales are probably ridiculous if the number of 50 year olds wearing replica shirts is anything to go by. It’s frustrating that Arsenal don’t invite genuinely exciting sides, and even more frustrating that some clubs get ‘recycled’ back into the tournament. Real Madrid, AC Milan and PSG are all sponsored by Emirates too, a tournament with those sides would be engaging for fans, whilst surely meaning a sell out (unlike this year) and a better test. Rangers should be invited again at some point, or Arsenal should at least hold annual friendlies with the Scottish side like the arrangement the clubs used to have.
On the pitch we were dry, off the pace defensively and against Sevilla clearly needed more tuning going forwards. Onto the Community Shield, real football is getting closer.