Sunday, November 27, 2022

Saturday round-up: Emirates Cup, Tavares set to depart

Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you.

Our final pre-season game takes place early today, when we face Sevilla in the Emirates Cup. Kick off 12.30.

This is essentially the last competitive preparation Mikel Arteta will have before we go to Crystal Palace next Friday night, so I assume his planning for that game will be somewhat evident in terms of today’s team selection. You’d imagine today’s starting line-up will be pretty close to the team we put out at Selhurst Park, so it’ll be interesting to see who he picks.

Last week against Chelsea, it was William Saliba in the centre of defence with Ben White outside him at right-back. Cedric played in the midweek game against Brentford, a collection of mostly second string players, so it could well be the same again today as White plays the right-back role much more like Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Speaking of which, the training pictures showed the Japanese international in action, along with Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney, as well as a first training ground sighting of Fabio Vieira. Whether he’s available for today remains to be seen, but it’s good to see him out there and putting his injury problems behind him. Hopefully all of these guys can get back to 100% quickly.

After that, I’m interested to see how involved the players on the fringes are today. We know there are a half dozen or so whose futures probably lie elsewhere. How does the manager deal with that? Will he use this game to focus on the 22 outfield players he’s going to use during the season, or perhaps put one or two in the shop window – as much as a pre-season game can have any impact in that regard?

I haven’t really watched much of pre-season so far because of time zones and all the rest, but I’ll certainly be watching this one today. With just six days until our Premier League opener, there are things we can glean from today’s set-up, performance, energy and all the rest. I also want to see Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, the new boys in their new shirts, and hopefully it’s an exciting, successful game that we come through without any fitness issues before Friday.

If you are going today, please be aware that in the 9th minute there will be applause in remembrance of former Arsenal and Sevilla star, Jose Antonio Reyes. He died in a car accident in 2019 and as two former clubs face each other on the pitch, he’ll be remembered by those in the stands too.

Elsewhere, it’s being reported that Nuno Tavares is on the cusp of completing his loan move to Marseille after the negotiations with Atalanta broke down. To be fair, the writing was very much on the wall for him when we signed Zinchenko, and even the pursuit of Lisandro Martinez to play at left-back was telling.

I hope he does well there, and you can never say never when a player goes on loan. I never expected Mohamed Elneny to come back and find a place when he spent a season at Besiktas, for example. However, I’d be quite surprised if Nuno returned. It was clear that the manager had considerable doubts about him last season, as we saw with a couple of substitutions, and even the deployment of Granit Xhaka at left-back when he was the natural replacement for the injured Kieran Tierney.

He’s a player who has some good qualities, but I just think the flaws in his game are exposed too frequently when he plays as a full back. As a wing back in a team which plays a back three, he’d be much more effective, but that’s not Arsenal and it’s not likely to be Arsenal in the future – at least with Arteta in charge. So, chances are this loan is a prelude to a permanent move somewhere next summer. Still, let’s hope he does well in France, because if he does the worst outcome is the club have a decision to make about his progress and development, and the best case scenario is he raises his value in the transfer market and we get a decent fee for a player (which would be quite the novelty).

Finally, if you’re looking for something to pass the time between now and the game, and you’ve already listened to the new Arsecast, I do recommend the latest episode of Wrighty’s House in which Ian and Musa Okwonga sit down with Gabriel Martinelli. It’s an enjoyable chat, and the young Brazilian comes across really well. Quietly spoken, but with a real clarity and determination about his job as a footballer.

Check it out here.

Right, that’s it for now. We’ll have some Emirates Cup coverage over on Arseblog News, and I might even dust off the live blog to see if everything’s running smoothly before the start of the new season.

Take it easy!

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