That’s a wrap!
Arsenal’s tour of the States fittingly concluded down the road from Hollywood with the club returning to base ahead of the Emirates Cup and Community Shield.
While the Gunners suffered a defeat to Man Utd in New Jersey, Mikel Arteta’s men ensured they returned in good spirits after beating Barcelona 5-3 in LA. The boss rotated his pack throughout their three games on tour – although perhaps not quite as much compared to other managers at this time of year – with every squad member (unless you’re Runar Alex Runarsson) earning minutes at some point.
There were plenty of positives to take away, but some questions Arteta and company took into the tour remain unresolved.
3 winners & losers from Arsenal’s pre-season US tour
Here are the three winners and losers from the club’s US tour.
Winner #1: Leandro Trossard
There surely wasn’t a bigger winner than Trossard.
The Belgian proved to be a savvy signing during the second half of last season as he notched ten Premier League assists to aid the Gunners’ title tilt. Still, Gabriel Martinelli’s brilliance meant he struggled to earn a starting berth.
The early signs this summer, though, suggest Martinelli’s got more than stiff competition for his place at the start of 2023/24. Trossard has been used all over the place by Arteta in pre-season and I think there’s scope for him to excel in midfield, but his skill set is tailored to thriving in the front three. His best work of the tour came down the left flank against Barcelona where he scored twice to propel Arsenal to victory.
He’s currently the club’s leading scorer in pre-season with three goals.
Loser #1: Back-up strikers
One of those unresolved questions is the situation regarding Arsenal’s backup strikers.
Supporters were prepared for a duel between Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun out in the States, but Arteta was reluctant to use the latter before injury ruled him out of the game against Barcelona. Thus, we didn’t really get to see what Balogun can do in Arteta’s set-up while Nketiah endured a disappointing tour.
The English forward earned plenty of minutes but he failed to fire in front of goal. He missed several chances and struggled to retain possession when the ball found his feet. Nketiah certainly wasn’t anonymous, but he didn’t have a positive influence.
Nevertheless, it appears as if Arteta will retain his faith in Eddie with Balogun likely to depart. Although, the boss didn’t quite gain the clarity he sought.
Continued on the next slide…