The next match on our US tour, taking place after a glitzy kit launch in LA, saw another win for Arsenal.
Rob Holding – and the new alternate 3rd kit – took centre stage, but another much changed lineup saw the Gunners put a physical Guadalajara side to the sword with some physicality and a sprinkling of invention.
Some may argue regarding what can be taken from a friendly game. The pressure that either makes or breaks a player is less stifling, so any displays must be taken with a pinch of salt, but objectively, there is also plenty to be taken as positives after such a result – much like our 2-1 win over the MLS All-Stars.
The ninety minutes that unfolded in the StubHub Center gave plenty of pointers for the coming season, and there is plenty of cause for optimism – and angst….
Rob Holding continues to impress, and may have bearing on our transfer targets
The fresh faced 21yr old signed from Bolton less than two weeks ago had an impressive 70 minutes in the victory over the MLS Allstars, but it was his first game, and there is a meagre amount that could have told us whether he will be a success. This match is much the same for the youngster, but a consecutive impressive appearance and his first goal could tip the balance in the pecking order for the centre backs at the club. He is comfortable on the ball,and his reactions are superb. He will hit a rocky patch in the future, but he is showing why he was so highly rated during his debut season at Bolton. Will Wenger now invest in an experienced central defender if Holding continues this incline?
Jack Wilshere is only out for a week – not a year.
The last time Jack Wilshere played a friendly in the US, he incurred an injury which kept him out for an entire season. This time though, Wenger has reassured us fans that Jack has merely strained the patella in his knee and is expected back within a week – but may miss the match against Manchester City in Gothenburg. Whatever injury he has picked up, what is imperative is that he gets the required rest. We pray that the week that has been diagnosed is not an Arsenal week, which would mean at least 32 weeks out….
Xhaka made his first start – and looked like he had been there for years.
Granit patiently bided his time before he could start a game, offering fans only tantalising titbits of action and sightings. This game was the equivalent of when a gameshow finally shows contestants what they could win – and boy is it good. His positional play is so disciplined, and he seems to have an unerring ability to be exactly where the team needs him – be it in attack or defence. His passing was on point, his tackling just as good, and he seems to be as fit as a fiddle. Could we have another five of him please?
Coquelin, Santi and Elneny all at loggerheads for spots
What has been apparent is that Coquelin has taken no prisoners during this tour, and is keen to press home the one advantage he has over his midfield rivals, and that is his tackling. Whilst he has been snapping away at the opposition tirelessly, Santi played in this game too, also donning the Skippers armband. Santi is perhaps one of the most blessed in terms of talent, and his workrate is not to be sniffed at. In terms of who looks to have the advantage so far though? Elneny may just be edging it. Tireless displays, great passing, and he hasn’t been afraid to push forward and have an effort from outside of the box. It may just be fitness that stops Santi getting the spot ahead of Elneny, but against Guadalajara, Coquelin and Xhaka started in the 2 of a 4-2-3-1, with Santi taking the coveted Number10 role. Elneny came on at half time, but will he get the nod to partner Xhaka against Liverpool on the 14th?
Debuchy is that doggy in the window
It could be misconstrued that with Mathieu Debuchy gaining so much game time so far in the friendlies played, that the French rightback may just have forced himself into the Managers thinking.
With Hector Bellerin slowly proving to everyone what a world class talent he is though, will Debuchy be happy playing second fiddle? Well, tha answer to that was apparent last season, when Debuchy went on loan to Bordeaux, rather than sit on the bench. Of course, he had dreams of making the Euro 2016 squad, but Debuchy wants to play, and his displays so far have had a slight air of needing to impress. It won’t be Wenger he is trying to lure with his gung-ho attitude though, it will be the managers who would have been watching the match. He will proveto be a fine acquisition for a top team, but Debuchy gave away the penalty which allowed Chivas to score in this game – and his aggression was at times too high for a game designed to be a barometer for his side rather than touching the mercury. Debuchy will no doubt earn a moe from Arsenal, but stranger things have happened.
Other noteworthy mentions would be Chuba Akpom scoring his second in two cameos on tour, which indicates a high level of confidence for the youngster. He is full of willing and has a good touch, but needs to work on his hold up play a little. Chambers played well alongside Holding, and Theo takes the brunt of the abuse, but I predict he will come good. Also, The Ox scored an absolutely great goal, cutting in from the right, skinning his opponent, before curling past the keeper. The sky is the limit for him, if he can maintain a modicum of form and fitness. Both are equally important and have been just as rare for the young England man.
Like I said, there was plenty to take from the game. Fitness levels looked good, and with two friendlies yet to be played, there is still time for some fine tuning – and perhaps an addition or two would be welcome?
One more thing that we can take from this game? We scored from a set-piece. A rarity in domestic fixtures, but Santi flighted in a free kick, Chambers knocked it back at the back post, and there was Holding. Why can’t we do that more often?
My thanks again to @kittyglitter – a Gooner who is a must follow.