Arsenal XI (First Half): Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Ben White, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Thomas Partey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sambi Lokonga, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson
Arsenal XI (Second Half): Arthur Okonkwo, Reuell Walters, Alex Kirk, Zach Awe, Lino Sousa, Matt Smith, Salah Oulad M’hand, Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, Folarin Balogun, Marcelo Flores. Subs: Jack Henry-Francis, Mazeed Ogungbo
Following the commencement of preseason last week, Mikel Arteta chose to hand out some game time to the players that had not featured in post-season international fixtures, as the Gunners ran out as 5-1 winners against Ipswich Town in a closed door friendly at London Colney.
Here are some of the talking points from the match
Eddie Nketiah Was the Undisputed Star of the Game
Fresh off from signing a contract extension with the club and getting a new number formerly won by Thierry Henry, Theo Walcott and departed captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah was the star of the show, netting a hattrick and providing an assist.
While the Gunners anxiously wait the imminent announcement of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, Nketiah is picking up where he left off last season where he scored five goals in eight starts as the Gunners surged for a fourth placed berth before falling at the last hurdle. Nketiah is proving that with Gabriel Jesus set to be the alpha male in Arsenal’s attack, he can also be a dependable option to the team.
Game Time for Players with a Year Left, but Do They Still Have a Future at the Club?
It is well documented that Arsenal are at crossroads with some certain players that have a year left on their contract, and in such scenarios, the three plausible options are to either sell the players for a decent fee, offer the player a new contract or allow the player run down his contract and leave on a free transfer next summer.
Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are some of the notable players in the closed door friendly with Ipswich Town that are currently in the scenario stated above. Among the five players, only Bellerin has publicly declared his intentions of wanting to leave Arsenal, while Leno has been linked with moves to Benfica and Fulham.
There is still a lot of time between today and when the transfer window ends, but Arsenal will have to make clear decisions on the futures of these players.
It was Good to See Thomas Partey get Game Time
Thomas Partey grew in influence last season and became a lynchpin in Arsenal’s midfield, so his thigh injury in the business end of the campaign hurt Arsenal real bad, as there were some initial struggles and horrible results to match before Mohamed Elneny was introduced to the team and steadied the ship.
Partey successfully notched up 45 minutes in the win over Ipswich Town and will be aiming to get more game time as he builds his fitness ahead of the new campaign ahead.
Sambi Lokonga had a Great Game, but Does this Affect Arsenal’s Pursuit of Youri Tielemans?
Seems Albert Sambi Lokonga isn’t a forgotten man after all, as he put up a dominating performance in midfield, scoring one goal and providing two assists for his team. He lost his place in the side to Elneny and didn’t play for Arsenal till the final day bashing of Everton where he came on as a sub.
With the tabloids stating that Arsenal has agreed personal terms with Leicester’s Youri Tielemans, Sambi Lokonga is one player that would be adversely affected by the arrival of the Belgian maestro, due to the sheer numbers that the club would have in that playing position on the pitch.
However, the onus will be on Mikel Arteta to manage each players game time adequately, and with Arsenal involved in four competitions, as well as the five subs rule, I’m sure everyone would be covered.
The next official game for the Gunners is against FC Nuremberg this Friday, but we will keep tabs on the transfer market situation before the game.
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