Good goals, awful kit
I didn't write a single post in July. Given that this time coincided with the Euro 2016 climax, the players returning to Arsenal training, and two pre-season friendlies this seems to show I'm losing some interest, or something. Part of that may be true. There is something in which I am losing interest. In fact I lost interest in it a long time ago. What is it? It's anything that Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger come out with regarding transfers. The non-stop lying has taken a toll over the years. My lack of output on the site reflects the apathy I am feeling towards Arsenal's management and their handling of player recruitment. We are less than two weeks from the start of the season and yet we still wait for a top striker to be signed. We still wait for a bull of a centre-back to be signed. We've signed Xhaka for big money and there is no choice other than to trust Wenger's judgement that he is the partner/competition for Cazorla and Coquelin that we've been crying out for. However, we currently sit in a position where Theo Walcott is going to be keeping Chuba Akpom on the bench when we play Liverpool in less than a fortnight. Klopp and his boys must be bricking it.
Now that we've done the doom and gloom - I've said it all on here many times before so I'm not just going to keep repeating the same stuff - how about some positive content? Well there is the signing of Rob Holding from Bolton. Like most Gooners I was not exactly jumping up and down at the signing of another young player with potential (you will notice I've not even mentioned Takuma Asano, a player who I will be surprised should he ever make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal) but in the two games he has played the kid has done very well. He certainly looks a far better player right now than Calum Chambers at centre-back. I've also been impressed by Kristian Bielik. Holding, of course, added to his bright start last night with a first goal in an Arsenal shirt, albeit a new contender for the worst Arsenal shirt ever produced. I like the way Holding seems to be more positionally aware, capable of defending, and even attacking the ball in the air when compared to Chambers. The injury to Mertesacker could, just possibly, open the door to an early opportunity for Holding and I wouldn't mind seeing him getting a bit of a go alongside Koscielny.
Another player that has been a bright spot is young Chris Willock. This kid has pace to burn, is developing physically, is very skilful, and also composed on the ball. Think back to Theo Walcott at 17 to 19 and then tell me who you think looked a better prospect. Walcott was part of the first-team at that age but Willock probably won't be. The difference? Willock didn't cost a massive transfer fee. I would love to see him on the bench early in the season and thrown on a couple of times to run at tiring defenders. Chuba Akpom has scored a couple of goals - the one last night saw him show a strikers instinct and decent strength against the defender (again more than Walcott) but I can't see him making a career as an Arsenal first-team player. The best that can be said, however, is that at least Wenger seems to have finally stopped kidding everyone that Yaya Sanogo is a professional footballer.
The final truly eye-catching performer of pre-season so far is, without a doubt, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He looks fit, a yard quicker, more confident, and his two goals so far have been absolutely top class. At Lens he scored with an exquisite chipped finish over the goalkeeper, while last night his goal was just sensational. Beating two defenders with sublime skill, showing great pace, and passing the ball beyond the goalkeeper in to the far corner. We've been waiting for The Ox to fulfil his undoubted promise as an Arsenal player. If this was to end up being the season for Alex then he could do some serious damage to opposing defenders. First of all he needs to stay fit, and then get a regular start. Fingers crossed for him and for Arsenal.
I aim to get back to something approaching normality now that I've ended the writing drought. A lot of that depends on Arsenal and whether or not they make signings. There are two more pre-season games on Friday and Sunday (live on ITV 4 and ITV respectively, I believe) before the serious business begins. Hopefully there will be two or three signings before then, and maybe even a departure or two. I will try to write the traditional season preview towards the end of next week, but then there will be another gap while I go on holiday with the family. What I will aim to do, as far as I possibly can, is refrain from moaning. It won't happen, but I'll try.