Despite Arsenal retaining their Amsterdam tournament crown the event itself exposed some of the issues that could cost the Gunners in the season to come. After a tremendous comeback in the first game against Ajax, where the side showed a lot of grit and determination to come from two goals to win 3-2, the second match against Sevilla was a little more worrying.
Taking into consideration the quality of the opponents the young Guns were facing it was still a worrying sign that Arsenal’s squad is rice paper thin. Despite this being another pre-season tournament when Sevilla stepped up their game Arsenal were just blown away. The first half was very impressive, taking the lead early on through Carlos Vela who looks to be a phenomenal prospect for the coming and combined very well with Nicklas Bendtner in attack.
Arguably Arsenal’s strongest department is the attacked minded one, the Gunners all ready have two world class strikers in Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie with another on his way back to fitness in Eduardo. However behind them there are emerging talents in Vela and Bendtner with Theo Walcott capable of playing up top should Arsenal suffer a plague of striking injuries.
However when you start to move back through the team cracks begin to appear and the alarm bells start ringing. Going back to the second match against Sevilla the Arsenal midfield’s oldest player at the start of the game was 19-year-old Mark Randall, who you can hardly call experienced having made just one Premier League appearance.
The rest of the midfield consisted of Aaron Ramsey, who looked good going forward but unreliable when defending as he gave away the ball far too many times for my liking. The Gunners also had Jack Wilshire, who looks like another potential superstar and was actually the only midfielder who didn’t look light weight when in a physical confrontation. Finally completing the midfield quartet was Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who looked cumbersome and extremely slow, eventually being switched to left-back with Kieran Gibbs moving up where Thomas enjoyed a better time of things.
Now if these are the replacements for the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri then Arsene Wenger will be praying that none of his first choice midfielders pick up an injury. Once again it’s a question of Wenger putting his faith in the kids, but judging by what we saw at the Amsterdam tournament that faith may be misplaced. Obviously the Gunners won’t be facing opposition of the same quality of Sevilla every week, no offence to Hull or Stoke! However they will be facing a different type of opposition, the likes of Bolton and Wigan won’t be playing short, quick passes and will use a lot more physicality. See what the odds are that Arsenal can over come that physicality here.
As Arsenal have demonstrated over the past they don’t respond well to be bullied around the park, anyone remember losing to Sheffield United not so long ago? My biggest fear is that we could suffer the same fate when Arsenal travel away from home. Looking at the defence doesn’t fill me with hope either, although I was impressed with the way Johan Djourou performed, he outshone his Swiss counter part Philippe Senderos.
However that’s were the praise stops because once again Justin Hoyte showed he is no where near good enough to play for Arsenal. Why Wenger continues to press forward with Hoyte is beyond me because he was skinned time and time again by Diego Capel. I thought that his performances in the humiliating defeats to Manchester United and Tottenham would have been enough to seal his fate. Wenger should take however much Middlesbrough are offering and run. The other thing that worried me about the Arsenal defence was Gibbs playing at left back, surely Armand Traore should have been in there. Now if Traore was injured then I can understand but then that raises another worry that if Gael Clichy and Traore were to pick up an injury then we would play someone who is normally classed as an attacking midfielder at left-back.
Now there is no way Wenger is going to be able to solve all these problems before the transfer window shuts but with 20 days left until it does close the French magician can sure up the midfield, hopefully with the signing of Gohkan Inler who looked a decent player in Euro 2008 with Switzerland. A defender would be nice as well and never count Wenger out on shocking everyone by bringing in someone, much like he did last year with Lassana Diarra. We can only wait and see, whilst I hope that all my doubts are laid to rest within the opening weeks of the season. Check out Arsenal’s odd for the new season here.