Updated: Oct 12
Arsenal 2-0 Lazio
The final game of Arsenal’s pre-season served up a 2-0 win in Stockholm against Italian giants Lazio. I say giants because it makes the result look better and more interesting, but in all truth this was a very routine game with not too much to shout about. The most interesting element was the starting formation, with Unai Emery opting for a 4-4-2; something I’ve wanted to see for a while. There were starts for Leno in goal, Chambers & Holding at centre back, which for me is a combination I would start the Premier League with. (Controversial maybe but Mustafi and Sokratis give me the willies!). Lichsteiner came in for Bellerin and Maitlaind Niles got his chance at left back due to the Kolasinac injury (club says 8 weeks, we all know that means Boxing Day). In Midfield were Nelson (still ‘only 18’ until he’s ‘only 19’), and on the right Iwobi, with his shiny new contract (hope he’s worth it). In the middle were Xhaka (Captain) and the long awaited debut of Torriera from Uruguay in the holding role, up from Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah. So a bit of a mish-mash 11, but a chance for a few players to impress the manager one last time before the real stuff starts next week.
The game, which was streamed live on Arsenal.com (mine worked), started slowly, with plenty of early possession for the Gunners as they settled better. There was some early beastliness from Lichsteiner (like him already), followed by an assist for a Lacazette volley which went close, but at the other end Lazio also nearly scoring with Caicedo. Then on 17 mins the first goal, a strong-break out of defence by Chambers, found Nelson who fed Iwobi in to the box and he missed ‘like Iwobi generally does’, but this time we got a fortunate rebound off the post into the path of the on-running Nelson for an easy tap in.... (offside? Well yeah, but who cares?!). The rest of the half was forgettable; poor defending at corners again (no Stoke or Pullis this season..phewy), we’ve gone from zonal to man to man marking (spot the difference!). Xhaka was doing Xhaka-like things in possession, only to be saved by Holding, and going forward it was a case of “is Lacazette still on the pitch, anyone seen him?”.
The second half brought changes with Aubamayang replacing Nketiah, who had a quiet half apart from one rushed chance, and Niles being replaced by Matteo Guendouzi ‘9mm baby’, (our new Rambo?). A new formation of 4-3-3 was adopted again, showing the side’s new ability to make in-game changes. However, this didn’t stop further chances being created by Lazio, albeit half-changes of our own making and Leno not really tested. Lazio were trying to form an aggressive press and it was good to see Arsenal break out fluently from it on a few occasions. If we can do that against City next week, Arsenal might have a chance.
On 63 min it was 2-0. Elneny who had come on for Torriera bundled himself all dangly-like into the box, where the ball found Lacazette, who calmly fed Aubamayang who took his time before finding the bottom corner via a slight deflection. “Auba knows were the goal is”, was the sort of noise I would have heard had that ball rolled in at the Emirates. The second goal followed by more substitutions kind of sucked the life out of the game, Lazio finished stronger without ever really troubling Leno, and when the whistle finally blew it was a relief.
A comfortable win against a Lazio side that don’t look like pulling up any tress next season. (They’ll probably win Serie A now!). Positives from the match were Leno’s footwork; for me that gives him the nod over Cech next weekend - and the way at times we broke from a heavy press to create chances. Early signs! Negatives? The way we defend corners - “come on Bouldy, sort it out!”. Questions? What formation and team for City? #confused.com
Leno - Never really worked but looked calm and assured in his decision-making and with his feet, which is all that you want in a keeper.
Lichsteiner - Looks a proper beast of a competitor and will keep Bellerin on his toes this season. Wish we had him three years ago.
Holding - A few slips but looks good with Chambers. Seems to like defending.
Chambers - Showed strong running, especially for the first goal, and comfortable in the air.
Torreira - Quite and assured, will take time for him to adapt but a good signing for me.
Xhaka - Poor, still can’t get those drifty moments out of his game, could be benched next week.
Nelson - ‘Still only 18’ cool finish for the goal, looks a good prospect from the bench this season.
Iwobi - When he runs you’re thinking, “go on son keep going”, then he stops and plays inside, still can’t finish.
Nketiah - Showed Ian Wright quickness in the box but rushed his one chance. Another prospect from the bench.
Lacazette - Who? Not sure pairing him with Nketiah worked, looked better when Aubanayang came on and got an assist.
So many but obviously Aub - he got a goal 7/10 - and Guendouzi 9mm looked impressive 8/10. The others huffed and puffed without blowing anything down.
On to the real stuff next week!!!
The club were asked what they were doing in relation to transfers with Deadline Day looming this Thursday. The released this statement..