First-half goals from Saka and Olayinka were enough to give Arsenal a convincing lead at the interval over the Colorado Rapids, who belied their nickname and were outsped by their young visitors.
Perhaps this was the first bit of good news for Arsenal fans this summer: some of the rookies are determined to fill the void left by the senior professionals, who have moved on. The question is: are they ready?
In answer to that rhetorical question, the one player who is unquestionably ready goes by the name of Calum Chambers. The reading of the game of Fulham’s player of last season was impeccable and, if he continues to play as well as this, Arsenal don’t need to panic buy in central defence, even if the want-away Koscielny doesn’t return to first-team action. On that note, I’ve heard some fans still think the Kos lettuce is the best defender at Arsenal, but I have to disagree: it’s Sokratis, in my opinion.
Clearly, Mustafi is nobody’s favourite central defender nowadays and, when he replaced Chambers, suddenly Arsenal’s defence looked more vulnerable. While the Germany international didn’t really do much wrong with the ball, he didn’t dominate proceedings the way Chambers did and positionally looked out of sorts.
Perhaps Mustafi’s unease was due to the introduction of a number of senior players, including the slim-line ‘Tank’, or should we call him ‘Slank’ from now on? Like Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang, the Slank looked ring-rusty, despite his new svelte figure.
When the substitutes came on, all eyes were on Ozil, who was handed the captain’s armband by Mustafi, who in turn had taken it from Chambers. It was good to see Ozil smiling and making jokes with team-mates, before entering the fray. The Germany international still possesses the final ball required to unlock defenses, as he proved by supplying a sublime corner, which was squandered by Arsenal’s attack. Aside from that, Ozil didn’t produce much, which fans have learned to expect. However, the lack of a ‘killer ball’ provider in the squad was apparent: only Ozil, and possibly Mkhitaryan, have the ability to deliver this key ingredient to success on the pitch.
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Arsenal fans have united to deliver a message of discontent that Stan Kroenke will struggle not to hear. The embarrassing nature of the Gunners transfer activity this summer has been too much to bear for some.
For example, the pursuit of the injured Kieran Tierney is strange to say the least. The Celtic left back is suffering from osteitis pubis, which is a career-threatening injury. The idea of spending more than half the tiny transfer budget on such a player seems risky in the extreme, although Celtic fans maintain that Tierney is ‘fit as a fiddle’, I can’t help but think this Stradivarius will need a lot of time retuning himself after surgery. In short, Tierney won’t be an instant fix.
Zaha, meanwhile, could be, some say. I certainly don’t think he’s worth £80m and it’s gone quiet on that front anyway.
Then there’s Saliba, who will cost a lot and will be loaned back to St Etienne should the deal go through. That’s doubtful now that Spurs are in the mix, which is yet another embarrassment for Arsenal.
Newly-promoted Aston Villa have more transfer clout than Arsenal these days, which makes Gooners fear for the team’s prospects this season.
The one signing that has been made is that of Martinelli, who had mixed fortunes in his debut. He was tenacious at times, but he lacked the confidence to drift past markers like Saka. However, he turned up in the right place to shoot inaccurately wide of the post twice. I’m really not sure what to make of him. Based on that first half, I wouldn’t have recommend signing him, but he does have something about him. However, I’d be surprised if he gets much, if any, first-team action this season, even though he capped his debut with a somewhat fortuitous goal. Thompson’s cross from the left was diverted goalwards by Martinelli’s chest, leaving the Rapids keeper with no chance. Once again, Martinelli was in the right place at the right time, which is a skill that is difficult to teach: perhaps that’s why Arsenal bought him.
Meanwhile, the ‘corporal’ at right back showed signs of why Wenger had so much faith in him.
Jenkinson has pace to burn and a fair bit of skill too, so it makes you wonder whether or not he’ll get a few games at Arsenal this season.
One thing’s for sure if the purse strings remain as tight as they are at Arsenal, quite a few of the youngster and fringe players will be required for the first-team and, on this showing, the future’s not quite as bleak as it looked before this pre-season friendly. Perhaps the optimists will be saying: ‘Bring on the new season’ after this, but the realists know that improving on last season’s finishing position in the league looks unlikely without the addition of new personnel. They’ll be saying: ‘Get your cheque book out Kroenke!’