Arsenal ended its pre-season schedule with a 2-0 victory over Lazio at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Reiss Nelson gave the Gunners the lead after 18 minutes with a rebound tap in from an Alex Iwobi shot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added Arsenal’s second in the 64th minute.
It’s been a successful pre-season for Unai Emery and his new team. The only blemish was the penalty shoot-out loss to Atletico Madrid in Singapore.
Of course the real business gets underway next week when the Gunners welcome Manchester City to the Emirates. Emery has used these friendly matches to see what he has at his disposal. Many of the club’s second-string players have been given the opportunity to show the new manager what they can bring.
Here’s a look at some of the takeaways from the Arsenal fringe players given a run out for the Lazio match:
Arsenal’s biggest problem last season was a shaky defense. It was therefore interesting to see Calum Chambers and Rob Holding at the center of the defense from the start. Chambers looked like a player reborn. He was solid and displayed confidence throughout. Holding made a couple of errant passes, but also provided several key clearances.
Stephan Lichsteiner saw his first action with the Gunners. His intensity was obvious from the start. Within the first five minutes, the Swiss defender challenged for a header and in the process his arm caught Lazio’s Ștefan Radu in the face. Arsenal have often been accused of being too soft so a little extra intensity in the back line is a welcome addition.
Bernd Leno started in goal and showed poise when playing out of the back despite Lazio pressure.
Lucas Torreira was paired with Granti Xhaka at the center of Arsenal’s midfield. He didn’t have many opportunities, but he held his own in his first appearance with his new team. After seeing him play during the World Cup, there is no doubt about the Uruguayan’s ability.
The versatile Ainsley Maitland-Niles was given the start at left back and put in an assured performance. If Nacho Monreal is not ready to go next week, it is expected that Maitland-Niles will be in the lineup.
One player that truly looked energized was Alex Iwobi. Maybe inspired by his new contract, the Nigerian showed vision in creating a few chances.
Matteo Guendouzi came on in the second half and the midfielder again looked impressive. He may end up being one of the best buys of the summer.
Sokratis and Kostantinos Mavropanos were given minimal playing time with the younger Greek appearing a bit shaky.
Emile Smith Rowe showed some inventiveness with his runs off the ball. The youngster has made the most of his chances and is sure to see some first team action this season.
There is still a lot of work for Emery to do in figuring out his best team. However, the pre-season has provided the new manager with plenty of positives heading in to the start of the 2018-2019 campaign.
What are your thoughts on Arsenal heading in to the season?