Positive #3: Selection headache
Watching these pre-season games, I put myself into Mikel Arteta’s position and try and pick a starting XI for the opening game of the season against Nottingham Forest. It is a very, very difficult decision that is surely keeping him awake at night. Simultaneously a manager’s dream and nightmare!
With the whole team fit, there are three very difficult decisions in my opinion. Jurrien Timber, the midfielders to play alongside Odegaard, and Trossard.
Benjamin Blanco White and Zinchenko were both fantastic last season, and our best team had both of these players on the pitch. Timber has been so good so far in pre-season and would work so, so well alongside William Saliba particularly that he seems too good to ignore.
In midfield, arguments can be made for Declan Rice, Thomas Partey and Havertz. They all offer different things to the side and can be very balanced depending on the opposition. Odegaard is, of course, the first name in that midfield.
As much as I love Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, Trossard is such an intelligent player, brimming with quality and confidence. I don’t see how the Belgian doesn’t start or at least get significant minutes. What is even more indicative of Trossard’s talent is that he could genuinely slot in any of those three positions.
I’m glad I’m just a fan and not the manager in this situation, but those are very good problems to have.
Negative #3: Sloppiness
To be honest, this is nit-picking after a very good game but there were two things that I thought were a bit sloppy or worrying.
Firstly, it was Saka missing his penalty. It’s not that big of a deal and even the best miss penalties from time to time, but this was a great chance to cement his penalty confidence. Missing the target completely was not pleasant to watch.
Secondly, I felt Odegaard was sloppy with possession. Typically so safe with the ball, he gave it away too many times for no reason. If Odegaard starts doing that, then this Arsenal team will not tick like it usually does.
Again, these were small things to pick up on in a great performance.
Continued on the next slide…