Arsenal kicked off their USA pre season tour with a splendid 5-0 win vs MLS All Stars at the Audi Field in Washington D.C and the Gunners now hold the record for the biggest win by a guest in an MLS All Star Game.
Highly anticipated debut for Declan Rice and Jurien Timber, and another newbie in Kai Havertz netted his first Arsenal goal. Moreover, Leo Trossard was delightful all game but unfortunately picked up a knee to knee collision in the second half seeing the energetic Belgian come off although Mikel after the game confirmed its nothing serious and he was subbed-off for precautionary measures.
Arsenal held Major League Soccer’s biggest stars to one shot on target across the 90 minutes. An overwhelming team performance saw Arsenal come above their opponents!
Here are a few exciting things that we noticed in the pre-season clash:
1. Havertz Hybrid Role:
His off-the-ball work was much better this time than against Nurnberg. Hunted to win the ball back consistently. Havertz played 2 key passes, won every aerial duel he faced (3/3) and was very alert till the final whistle. His first goal for Arsenal is the exact kind of position Arteta would want him in, an LCM coming into the box late and get into his striking instincts.
Mikel Arteta when asked in the post-match interview about Kai’s position said, “He’s playing as an attacking midfielder as of now but I’m sure throughout the season hell be used in different positions.”
2. Rice/Timber Pivot:
Both the new summer signings appeared in the second half, complimenting each other very well in the middle of the pitch.
Declan portrayed his primary skill sets of holding the ball and kept scanning all over the pitch, keeping the team intact. Rice defended very deep and was very solid on the ball. Played like a metronome in this team. It’s clear that this is where Arteta sees him.
Timber was undoubtedly the Highlight of the night!
Timber is a build up machine pic.twitter.com/WO5ZT3nOMv
— Asad🇵🇸 (@asxd_98) July 20, 2023
He started as an inverted RB (right sided Zinchenko) essentially. Found himself at the centre of the circle at times. Comfortable receiving the ball with his back to goal in central areas. His drop of shoulder can be very useful for evading opposition press. Timber showcased his blazing pace to prevent opposition from countering. With his capacity to invert and occupy different spaces it’ll be fascinating to outlook the plans for him this season.
Timber inverted alongside Rice, and that formed the base of box in 3-2-2-3 with Kai Havertz and Martin Odegaard playing the offensive roles.
3. Kieran Tierney as a LCB:
Solid in the back three playing as the LCB converting into a traditional LB. Offered plenty of defensive solidity. Sacrificed his usual overlapping game for the tactics of the team. Looked motivated after a long time, something that all Arsenal fans would have loved.
‘Tierney is to Timber what White is to Zinchenko!’ Which does indeed mean that there is a place for Tierney if he wants it.
Definitely reminded us of the early Arteta 3-4-3 era, Tierney starting at LCB which shut down City and Chelsea in the FA Cup triumph.
Inclusion of Jurrien Timber might have a domino effect on KT and he can come through as the first-choice in the left-back/left-centre-back position.
4. Leandro Trossard ~ A Santi Succesor?
Manipulates the spaces very well with his skill to play with both feet. Curled a powerful shot outside the box that merited him an impressive goal in the first half. Trossard at LCM gets him into way too many attacking position which clears him lots of options to do further. He could well and truly be a reason that can keep Havertz out of this team.
Unfortunately picked up a collision early in the second half which saw him come off although as earlier stated Arteta confirmed post match that it was precautionary and he didn’t want to take a risk.
5. Eddie on the Wing:
Nketiah looked very sharp on the wing. Won couple of free kicks with good runs in the box throughout the first half. His ball carrying ability at LW shows his potential to fit into the team at a position other than a CF. He adds a different and more direct approach which suits his burst of pace and change of direction.
We saw Eddie score a banger vs Watford in pre-season a couple of seasons back from the left-wing position and at that time it started conversations about him dropping in those roles. This also opens up possibilities with a Martinelli/Trossard (whoever plays on that left-flank) switch when Eddie is up-top.