No sooner had it started, than Arsenal’s pre-season is over. In terms of results, Mikel Arteta probably couldn’t have asked for better from his young team.
The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar this season, meaning the Premier League season starts a little earlier than usual in order to accommodate the December tournament.
As a result, Arsenal players returned to pre-season training earlier than usual, though with time afforded to the likes of Bukayo Saka, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Ødegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who were all involved in international matches.
The team’s pre-season results were:
- Arsenal 5-1 Ipswich Town (Behind closed doors)
- 1. FC Nürnberg 2-5 Arsenal (Germany Tour)
- Everton 0-2 Arsenal (USA Tour)
- Orlando City 1-3 Arsenal (USA Tour)
- Arsenal 4-0 Chelsea (USA Tour)
- Arsenal 1-2 Brentford (Behind closed doors)
- Arsenal 6-0 Sevilla (Emirates Cup)
Ultimately, the results count for very little in pre-season. The most important aspect of any tours or training is to get up-to-speed in terms of fitness and to start ensuring that everyone is prepared for the new season, mentally and tactically.
However, there are still other important aspects that Mikel Arteta will have been happy with as Arsenal turns their attentions to their opening game against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal’s desire to have all of their business conducted before the team flew out to America was ambitious to say the least. That’s not to say that the club didn’t manage to bring in a few new faces before the plane left the tarmac at Luton Airport. Matt Turner was officially confirmed by the club, joining Fábio Vieria from FC Porto and then later Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, while Jesus’ City teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko joined him while the team were in America.
All players seemed to have adjusted to their new surroundings very quickly. Vieria has been unable to play for the club just yet as he recovers from a foot injury, however, he has still been a very welcome presence in the team.
The camaraderie among the new players has been infectious. Gabriel Jesus already looks a firm favourite, while Turner and Zinchenko have also looked to have adjusted quickly too.
There will likely still be business to come and go from Arsenal before the transfer window closes, but for now, Arsenal looked to have plugged some major gaps with the right characters.
As stated above, wins in pre-season are welcome but ultimately irrelevant. Of course, all teams would rather win a game than lose or draw it, but Arsenal have been very impressive thus far.
The games have allowed Arsenal to give game time to the likes of William Saliba and youngster Reuell Walters among others, but the goals from Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Folarian Balogun have all contributed to Arsenal producing some very good results.
An emphatic 4-0 win over Chelsea is perhaps the highlight of pre-season so far, but the club need to make sure they don’t get too carried away. The real task will be replicating that same result in the league.
Over the course of pre-season, the life of a football player can be fairly boring. Tours usually consist of media duties, regular and intensive training sessions and matches. Generally, there’s very little to do.
As a result, the club have organised regular media duties that have kept people entertained. William Saliba, Reiss Nelson, Matt Turner and Eddie Nketiah all took a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, while Turner and Granit Xhaka met the famous Poorly Drawn Arsenal.
Mohamed Elneny, Gabriel Jesus, Fábio Vieria, Aaron Ramsdale, Bernd Leno, Gabriel Martinelli and a few others took part in a hugely competitive mini-golf challenge while in Orlando.
These videos just seem to show how much unity there is in the squad. Everyone looks to be getting along and keeping spirits high.
The unity on display in the videos seems to be translating on the pitch as well. There have been lots of displays of affection in celebrations and often the whole team are involved.
The more unity in the squad, the better.
Tactical and positional fluidity is something that Mikel Arteta values above all others. Some of the fluidity on show during pre-season has been hugely encouraging.
Gabriel Jesus has effectively taken over Alexandre Lacazette’s role as a false-nine, but the Brazilian forward is far more willing to draw himself out wide, allowing wide players like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to take up positions through the middle.
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been an inspired signing for precisely this reason. During the team’s final match against Sevilla in the Emirates Cup, Zinchenko would often swap positions with Granit Xhaka. As Zinchenko moved into midfield, Xhaka would move into the fullback role and vice-versa.
The continued absence of Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu, means that Arsenal will likely be lining up against Crystal Palace without their first-choice fullbacks. However, Zinchenko looks to be a worthy stand-in for Tierney and Benjamin White has done an impressive job as a full-back in Tomiyasu’s absence.
Of course, Cédric Soares is capable of occupying either flank, but White allows Arsenal to accommodate William Saliba.
Arsenal are the inaugural match of the 2022/23 Premier League season, kicking off in an 20:00 away match to Patrick Vieria’s Crystal Palace.
How Arsenal will perform is anyone’s guess, but if they take the key points from pre-season as well as the confidence of seeing Gabriel Jesus net a hat-trick in his first-ever start at the Emirates Stadium, coupled with the buoyancy of having William Saliba back and ready, then they could be on for a good start on Friday.
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