It has been a solid pre-season for Arsenal so far.
Unbeaten after draws against Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, with a nice 5-1 victory over PSG the meat in the sandwich – I am not counting penalties in a glorified pre-season game as defining the winners and loses.
Arsenal players are slowly adapting to Unai Emery’s way of playing. Things do not change over night so we can not expect us to press high and man mark without making mistakes.
Remember it took 12 months and £300m+ for Pep Guardiola to build a title winning team; and Jurgen Klopp is still getting the benefit of the doubt with fans and the press saying he is still growing Liverpool in is vision.
But Arsenal are different, we seem to have a higher level of scrutiny, and even during the game against Chelsea fans were moaning. Rome was not built in a day.
I try not to read too much into pre-season. I remember a few years back. Tottenham won every single game. They ended up finishing 5th.
There are 3 things, or 3 people really, that we can get a little excited about from pre-season. Three teenagers who have looked very comfortable in the Arsenal first team.
Frenchman Mattéo Guendouzi was a £7million signing this summer.
Just 19-years old, he has been the man of pre-season, looking very comfortable in the middle of the park. He is the type of player that “Diamond Eye” Sven Mislintat was bought in to find.
Whilst I do not expect him to be parachuted into the first team, his composure and ability will put pressure on Granit Xhaka if the Swiss man struggles.
Thos in the know from France rate him highly and you have to keep reminding yourself when he plays that he is still just 19.
Emile Smith Rowe
When it was announced that Arsenal were selling Jeff Reine-Adelaide, a lot of fans kicked up a bit of fuss, feeling that the young Frenchman was never really given a chance in an Arsenal shirt.
Whilst he never did quite break through, a huge reason for his departure was the form of Emile Smith Rowe.
The Englishman is 2 and a half years younger than his former team mate and has shown in pre-season why the club is backing him over the senior man.
Smith Rowe scored an excellent goal against Atletico Madrid, showing why some fans who know their stuff have labelled him as the best home grown talent since Jack Wilshere.
Not only did Smith Rowe move ahead of Reine-Adelaide, but he also moved ahead of fellow teenager Joe Willock.
Willock is perhaps the man in pre-season to have missed out on a chance.
Whilst Smith Rowe will now move forward to training regularly with the first team, getting League Cup and Europa League starts, and getting opportunities on the bench, Willock will return to the U23 team.
That is not to write Willock off, he turns just 19 in a week or so, but he has seen both Guendouzi and Smith Rowe move ahead of him in midfield.
Smith Rowe can be very please with his last months work.
With all the hype surrounding Smith Rowe and Guendouzi, Reiss Nelson risked joining Willock as a forgotten man. But he reminded us in the closing moments against Chelsea he showed his ability.
Nelson feels like he has been around for a while now, but he is still just 18. With Arsenal lacking natural width and pace this season, Nelson could be a game changer off the bench.
He showed against Chelsea how important it is to have someone who can get round a full back, hit the by-line and put in a quality ball.
If Arsenal end up not signing Ousmane Dembele or Leon Bailey, it will be up to Nelson to be the man who provides the width and pace.
On his pre-season showing, he might not yet be as good as the aforementioned players, but he is ready to step up.
Like last season, the Europa League could be the place to go to watch some of our talented younger players.
Guendouzi, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Ainsley Maitlan-Niles and Konstantinos Mavropanos will make up the spin of a talented young team.