Preseason US Tour; Arsenal vs. Chivas in LA
I was lucky enough to see the Arsenal play Chivas de Guadalajara in Los Angeles during the last match of their preseason Tour of the USA! It was amazing to see the Arsenal squad from a different view without the unbearable commentary. I couldn’t help but to form insightful new opinions on certain players and confirm others that I had developed from the previous two matches against Lens and MLS All-stars.
I’d first like to make the point that Xhaka is noticeably excellent. He had very impressive passing and movement in difficult positions, and he was constantly communicating with the players around him. There were multiple times where he checked in to show for the young centre-backs (Chambers, Holding, and Bielik) and did tremendously well to move the play forward from an extremely tight position. Xhaka seemed to fit in perfectly to the role that we would consider defined by Coquelin – a freely moving, deep-lying center midfielder with the opportunity to move forward. I did notice multiple examples of the hard, two-footed tackles that cause others reviews of him to seem hesitant. The world knows that we are in desperate need of a hard man! While his game was more defensive on the day, I see him as more of a true CM for the season to come.
Our other preseason debutant, Rob Holding was also a standout performer on the day. Aside from netting his first goal for the club, he had a very strong performance and showed improvement from even the Lens match. It is still early days, but Arsene seems to be cultivating a future partnership between the stronger and more experienced, Chambers. Chambers, showing composure and consistency at both ends of the field, ultimately assisted Holding for his finish!
Offloads and Plaudits
“I see no reason that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can not fill all gaps left by the loss of Theo.”
Walcott’s performance against relatively weak opposition in the preseason matches has been less than stellar. Given the chance to play up top, the rest of the squad was left wanting when looking for a penetrating run or link-up play. One would expect him to go all out to prove his worth and naturally shine in these friendlies, but it was simply not the case. I will preface my next statement by saying that I do like Walcott and have supported him as a player and a representative of our club. On the back of this preseason, and previous seasons, I see no reason that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can not fill all gaps left by the loss of Theo.
I mentioned in my last post (click here to view) that we do not have much dead wood to offload. Even with our defensive struggles, I believe that Debuchy is surplus to requirements. He is a decent player and a hard-man. I was surprised to see him and Jeff warming up together and talking a lot before the match. The young crew needs to be more effective. I did not see as much as I expected in terms of their movement and availability. With that said, we all know how talented they are with the ball at their feet.
I have to give credit to an emerging leader and a truly consistent talent, Monreal. It has been apparent that he is a wonderful defender and top talent working up the wing. This preseason, he has shown himself to be constantly communicating, directing, and supporting the rest of the team while leading by example with his play! If we are counting our players for a “spine of leaders” or the proverbial “seven hard men” he is certainly in the mix and deserves the credit he has worked for.
Roundup and Contact
In conclusion, I think that Holding and Chambers are and excellent future pairing for the back line, and that we were really missing the effectiveness of our starting midfield. It won’t be groundbreaking to hear, but Wenger needs to strengthen the defence and reinforce the attack. The supporters and media have been saying it for years, but after seeing the options off the ball (and out of the camera sights) he must know that he has to.
- Let us know what you think about the preseason and our prospects for this season by commenting below or sharing on Twitter @GoonerInCali!