US tour ends with Chivas win, Wenger on transfers, Mahrez and the Ox

Morning all, it’s a bank holiday here today, so just a quick one from me this morning.

The pre-season tour of the US was completed with a 3-1 win over Chivas Guadalajara in LA last night. The Arsenal goals came from Rob Holding, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chuba Akpom. Watch the goals here.

I didn’t stay up to watch it, but we sported our third kit which makes us look a bit like referees crossed with DynoRod men, but hey. Chivas got a goal back when Mathieu Debuchy gave away a penalty, but it seems like it was pretty comfortable win in the end.

Arsene Wenger said afterwards:

It was an ideal game against a very determined Chivas. Overall I think it was interesting for us because we needed to be patient as they started better than us. After 20 minutes we came into the game and we got a comfortable win in the end. It was very interesting to see some young players – we had a very young defence. Overall it was a positive experience for us.

He was, of course, asked about transfers and specifically German defender Shkodran Mustafi and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette. He said:

We have not closed any deal with anybody at the moment. That’s the answer. You speak about Mustafi. Is it Mustafi or anybody else – we haven’t concluded anything at the moment. I can understand that you are interested in transfers but I’m not ready to come out on any name.

Over the weekend, Wenger attended the PSG v Leicester game, with many people suggesting Wenger was there to watch Riyad Mahrez. He increased speculation with one of those classic Wenger smiley interviews in which he says very little but people read a lot into his grin. See for yourself:

I suspect that the fact we play Leicester in the second game of the season and this is a handy opportunity to go see them and what way they’re set up for the new campaign is the primary reason behind this. He’s definitely not going to scout Mahrez at a pre-season game, that’s pretty ridiculous. If he wants the player it’s because of what he did last season, not what he does in a game which is basically a training/fitness exercise.

Still, that grin. We’ve seen it before. Is he up to something? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. With all the training and other commitments of the tour over, we have a week at home training and lots of time to do what needs to be done. This week seems like the ideal time to press on and get the business done. We’re away again for some games in Scandinavia next week, and the week after that is the build-up to the new season.

Obviously if you can bring in players and give them a bit of time to adjust, settle in, meet their teammates and everything else, that would be ideal. For various reasons though it doesn’t always work that way. There is a bit of a domino effect when players move, and selling clubs may not be minded to sell until they’ve found a replacement, it’s something all clubs have to deal with, but our needs are pressing.

Where the manager and the Chief Executive have found some common ground about this situation is the acceptance that a striker and a central defender are an absolute requirement. So, given there’s absolute clarity on that, you’d hope it makes doing the deals a little easier. We know what we need, hopefully we know who we want, so let’s just do it. Fewer words, more action.

Going back to the Chivas game, the goal from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sticks out a bit for me. It’s his second of the tour, and they’ve both been goals of the highest quality. What’s interesting is that the manager has again suggested that the Ox’s issues are more mental than anything else. He does have an iffy fitness record and I don’t think that helps, but Wenger says he has to have more faith in his own ability:

He has it all, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Power, penetration. It’s difficult what he doesn’t have – that’s why I would like him to get to the level he can go to. Maybe he doesn’t completely believe himself how good he can be and that’s the final step for him.

I think this is a big season for him. He’s into the final two years of his contract, and we’re at a point where he’s playing for a new deal. I don’t think there’d be any shortage of takers if things didn’t work out for him and he moved on next summer, but would they be the very top echelon of Premier League clubs? It’d be great to see him really kick on this season, we’ve had glimpses of what he can do, but never seen it on a consistent basis. Fingers crossed.

Right, that’s just about that. There will be an Arsecast Extra for you later on, James and I recorded that last night so I’ll have it up for you in a couple of hours. Check back here for that, and we’ll have all the news throughout the day over on Arseblog News.

Have a good one.

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