Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Sunday round-up: Milwall beaten, Willock, Miedema magic

Morning.

A quick Sunday round-up for you. Instead of playing Inter Milan today in Florida, Arsenal’s pre-season preparations continued at London Colney yesterday with a 4-1 win over Milwall. I watched the goals, scored by Calum Chambers, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Flo Balogun. Beyond that, I don’t know how much we can read into a behind closed doors friendly.

There was a first run-out in an Arsenal shirt for Albert Sambi Lokonga, and players like Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Willian – who might well be departures – also featured. There was no Hector Bellerin though, whether that was down to an impending move it’s hard to say. He could just as easily have a knock. Sead Kolasinac didn’t play either, and after the arrival of Nuno Tavares to back-up Kieran Tierney, if he wants to play football next season it’s going to have to be somewhere else.

Interestingly, there was no Joe Willock either and his participation in the pre-season games has been a bit sketchy. There was an injury which kept him out of the first one, but with Newcastle continuing their interest, people might read something into his absence yesterday. Speaking after their own game on Friday night, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said:

“You have to ask Arsenal, it’s their decision and it’s the player’s decision. Of course we want him back, he did great with us and gives us another dimension in midfield that we haven’t got.

“We’ll keep bashing away at it.”

I would say that if Newcastle really want him, there’s a fairly easy way to make it happen, and that’s to bash away at the piggy bank and pay Arsenal what we think he’s worth. That would be the most uncomplicated solution to this particular ‘problem’ for them. However, it’s hard to see Mike Ashley stump up that kind of cash when he still wants to get rid of the club, and I wonder if our valuation differs significantly from theirs right now.

I feel the looming spectre of a loan move coming to be honest, and while they can be pretty lucrative in terms of a loan fee, the only way I could get behind that is if we extend Willock’s contract before allowing him to go. If he tears it up there again next season, we’ll have to reckon with the prospect of a player with just 12 months left to go on his deal, and that’s exactly the kind of scenario we have to avoid. If his loan is so-so, at least we got the few million loan fee, and as a relatively young homegrown player he’d retain plenty of his market value. Let’s see.

After Milwall, I guess there’s going to be another similar kind of game during the week to take the place of the Everton/Millonarios fixture that was supposed to take place in Orlando, but I don’t think any details about that have emerged yet. Maybe it’ll just be a week of intensive training. Then this day next week things get a bit more challenging with Chelsea coming to the Emirates. So, plenty for Mikel Arteta to work on between now and then and, of course, there remains plenty to do in terms of shaping the squad for the start of the new season.

The chaps did score some nice goals yesterday, but Arsenal related goal of the day has to go to Vivianne Miedema for the sumptuous strike below in the 3-3 draw between the Netherlands and Brazil.

Tim is doing an Olympics round-up featuring all the Arsenal players involved over on the dedicated Arsenal Women section on Arseblog News.

Right, the sun is shining. The dogs need walking. The bacon sandwich needs eating. Enjoy your Sunday, back tomorrow with more here and an Arsecast Extra.

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