And so the Emirates Cup, Arsenal‘s precursor to every Premier League season, has come and gone for another year – but what can we take from it besides an orthodox point-scoring system?
Once again, albeit in somewhat confusing manner, the Gunners got to lift the trophy in front of their home fans, signalling an end to their pre-season as they prepare for a Community Shield match with Chelsea next week.
Sevilla, Benfica and RB Leipzig got to show off their talent and new signings at the Emirates Stadium as well in what was a valuable weekend of football for supporters.
Valuable how? Here’s five things the Emirates Cup taught us.
Alexandre Lacazette is the big name signing Arsenal fans are all talking about but the club’s other summer acquisition, Sead Kolasinac, deserves the plaudits for his efforts over the weekend.
The 24-year-old was an unused substitute for the 2-1 defeat to Sevilla on Sunday, but he was absolutely awesome – as he has been all pre-season – in the 5-2 win over Benfica 24 hours earlier.
Kolasinac had a hand in his new side’s first, second and fifth goals against the Portuguese side and in general was a real pest on the left flank for the Gunners.
It seems a role that Kolasinac is more than suited to play and, for a comfortable left wing-back, Arsene Wenger has got himself a steal after signing the player on a free transfer.
Although Arsenal got to lift the Emirates Cup as a result of the pre-season tournament’s, frankly, confusing rules, the north London side actually lost to Sevilla on Sunday.
A large factor in that was the dominant showing in midfield from Steven N’Zonzi; the former Stoke midfielder has gone from strength to strength in Spain and Sevilla now have one of Europe’s most commanding enforcers in their team.
The 28-year-old is beginning to enter the peak of his career and his natural leadership is essential to the La Liga club. It could be for Arsenal as well, who saw the best of N’Zonzi after his casually ridiculous goal gave Sevilla a 2-1 victory.
His all-round game was fantastic as well. He dictated tempo, shielded the defence and controlled the match for his side.
Arsenal are lacking a proper leader in midfield and have reportedly been keen on N’Zonzi before; missing out on him before was a mistake but there’s still time to rectify that, if Wenger really wants to.
Excitement about Jean-Kévin Augustin continues to rise
RB Leipzig, despite qualifying for the Champions League for the new season, continue to follow their policy of signing young players and this summer has been no exception after the acquisition of Jean-Kevin Augustin from PSG.
The reported €13m transfer fee appears to be a steal after a couple of decent showings from the 20-year-old. Augustin played in Leipzig’s 1-0 loss to Sevilla on Saturday and significantly impressed, despite the defeat.
The forward displayed his natural confidence as he burst forward with pace, skilled his way through the defensive line, and often looked like being Leipzig’s best chance of a goal the match with the La Liga team.
It’s early days but Augustin could be yet another young talent to take Europe by storm at Leipzig, and based on Saturday’s showing it’s almost a certainty.
We feel like the same conversation is had about Theo Walcott every year: he plays a couple of games really well, opens the campaign with a few goals and, just as Arsenal and England fans begin to take notice, he fades away for the rest of the season.
It could be the same again this season after Walcott scored twice in the 5-2 victory against Benfica, but at 28 this is really the last time the forward can have a false dawn – it’s his final opportunity to show his worth to the Gunners.
Amid the signing of Lacazette, confusion about the future of both Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, however, Walcott ensured his name has not yet been forgotten and continues to be included in conversations about Arsenal’s front line.
Although Everton have been linked with a move, Walcott has staked his claim to his place at Arsenal, but he will have to continue to play at the top of his level to retain it.
Ben Yedder’s social media game is outstanding
Perhaps not the detailed and insightful analysis of a particular player you may have been expecting but Wissam Ben Yedder’s sharp response to a bitter Arsenal fan was so good we just had to include it.
Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi uses Twitter really well, while Stoke’s Peter Crouch comes out with some blinders as well but Ben Yedder is one to watch.
The Sevilla forward, who earns his pass into the select group after sending a response to a rather upset Arsenal fan, was clearly unhappy about his side’s friendly match loss.
His response was brutal, yet effective.