Saturday, September 23, 2023

The serious business of pre-season

Morning all.

It’s Sunday. Nothing much has happened beyond a behind closed doors friendly against Ipswich which saw Arsenal win 5-1. Of course many will focus on the 5, but I’m all about the 1 which is surely a sign of our disintegrating defensive solidity and if we keep that up this season all will be lost.

[Insert 700 words here in the style of some negative YouTuber who, if Arsenal discovered a cure for cancer, would find a way to criticise the fact we haven’t figured out how to stop heart attacks and world hunger].

Eddie Nketiah scored a hat-trick, Albert Sambi Lokonga scored one, and Flo Balogun got on the scoresheet too. If you are so starved of Arsenal and football that you want to watch highlights, you can find them on the official site.

Here’s the starting line-up from yesterday:

Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Ben White, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Thomas Partey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sambi Lokonga, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson

It’s quite interesting to consider that at least 6 of them probably should be playing elsewhere by the time the new season begins, and I could make a strong case for 7 but I don’t think we’ll be signing another right-back this summer.

As matches begin again, I am looking forward to the inevitable debate between the ‘pre-season doesn’t matter’ and the ‘You can take a lot from pre-season’ camps. Of course the games are relevant in the context of preparation and can show you what you need or what you’re missing, as well as being good for match fitness, but ultimately you don’t win any points or trophies in pre-season … unless you’re Sp*rs and let’s face it, nobody wants to be Sp*rs.

One thing I do not like about pre-season these days is the games against Premier League opposition. I understand the reason why this happens – £££££ €€€€€€ $$$$$$ – they’re all chasing the Dollarydoos, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Look at last summer, a game against Chelsea when we could have played against literally anyone else, and one of their lads crunches into Thomas Partey, he misses the start of the season and our start to the season was missing a lot.

I’m not saying that challenge on him was part of some nefarious Chelsea plan to put one of our most important players out of action just weeks before we played them in the Premier League, but nor do I think it’s a completely ridiculous thing to consider. We don’t play them until November this time around, but when we face them in Florida later this month, a couple of ‘Oh I was just going for the ball and mistimed it, oooops 😇😜’ challenges on a couple of key players wouldn’t be at all surprising.

To that end, I demand Arsenal re-sign Emmanuel Frimpong on a short-term deal so he can do a job on a litany of Chelsea players. I’m not suggesting he ends careers or anything but a scraped Achilles here, a corrupted knee ligament there, and the odd dead leg before he’s sent off wouldn’t go amiss.

Poor Pulisic. Mangled Mason. Krippled Kai.

And on that note of not completely serious ultra-violence, I will leave it there for this morning.

Have a great Sunday.

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