Arsenal kick started their pre season friendlies today in Germany with a game against FC Nürnberg and were held to 1-1 draw. Mikel Arteta named a rather stronger line-up than what you’d expected in a first pre-season game, with multiple senior players starting the match.
Players returning from injury namely Gabriel Martinelli, Alex Zinchenko and Tomiyasu were rested. Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard who was named in the lineup was shortly replaced by Fabio Viera following a slight knock in the warm-up. William Saliba was seen coming back to the starting line up following an extended spell on the touch line. Leo Trossard, who started the game in the role Xhaka played previously for the club as the NO. 8 made it look effortless.
Bukayo Saka opened the scoring early in the game after cutting in from the right and unleashed a powerful shot past the goalkeeper to give Arsenal the lead. Nürnberg drew level through a bizarre own goal from Jorginho early in the second half.
Here are a few interesting things that was learnt in this pre-season clash:
1. Trossard as an 8 drifting wide:
Leandro Trossard started the game as a left sided No. 8. He was fluid in his positioning and stacked up some good through balls throughout the first half. Leo linked up play really well with Nelson and looked very sharp. He pulled up wide in deeper positions than Xhaka would tend to. This role could suit him in fixtures against low blocks, something he used to do at Brighton – take the ball wide and cut-in with players around him. This role, the left-sided eight – will be an interesting on to keep an eye on in the upcoming Arsenal pre-season games. Looks like there is a bit of dynamic change by Mikel there.
2. Kiwior inverting from left back:
Arsenal’s winter recruit, originally seen to be a LCB played an inverted left back role in the pre-season friendly. His positioning was superb, started wide and then pushed in field to form a double pivot along with Partey. Exactly the role Zinchenko did for us last season. Lost the ball a couple of times but was good overall, trying to win the ball high on the pitch. His position was interesting on over-loads with Thomas Partey taking up right spaces and him coming in centrally as the lone midfielder when Nurnberg were pinned in their defence in the first half.
3. Kai’s Positioning:
Kai Havertz’s position has been subject to massive speculation following his Arsenal move. He made his Arsenal debut coming off the bench at half time and impressed with a bright performance, playing in an advanced No. 8 role. Often seen holding the ball and linking up play to the wings. Could have had a tap in if Jesus made the pass early on in the second-half. Completed plenty of off the ball movements and runs into the box too. Speculations of him being a Xhaka successor looks too good to be true, although we need to sit back and take how his role develops. Initially playing with Jesus upfront, he was leading the press of two – and with those late runs, he could take up the midfield role and hybrid it into a forward by arriving late in the box.
4. Gabriel Jesus – a legitimate option at RW:
Gabriel Jesus came on in the second half as a cover for Saka at RW. Comfortable on the ball, and made runs into the central spaces. Should have done better in the box when Balogun hit the post. Did pretty well with his back turned to goal, ad always. Could be seen as a definite wide RW cover for Saka with experience playing there in his City days. Possibly a reason why Arsenal haven’t shown much interest in the RW market. At times, like it did in the dusk of last season – Saka moves more centrally and Jesus fills the void at RW. This could hand Arsenal technical advantage, especially when Gabriel Martinelli comes in.
5. Youngsters make their presence felt when called upon:
Just as the second-half began Arteta got to his bench and called upon his young guns. Ethan Nwaneri was very promising in his short spell, looked comfortable with the senior team. Reuell Walters came on with 15 minutes remaining on the clock and made an exceptional block to keep the game level. Myles Lewis Skelly played 15 minutes and made a defence splitting pass late on which wasn’t converted by Balogun.
While both MLS and Reuell Walters had their moments, young Ethan Nwaneri made a promising outing. He showed his technical elegance and understanding of space in the short time he was on pitch. Young Ethan looks like someone who can make an impact at Arsenal at present and massively in the coming years.
Ethan Nwaneri showcasing all of his skills today. This time his close control, wriggling ability. Always knows where defenders are coming from. Just silky. pic.twitter.com/qrnKYP8Qob— Hale End Productions (@Balogunner14) July 13, 2023