Martinelli and Saka Impress Against the Rapids, My Post-Match Thoughts

I always enjoy preseason matches, and this one reminded of why I love them so much. So many young players getting chances to show their talents, and it really seems that we have good group that could end up producing some first-team players. I was glad a lot of the usual first-team players didn’t play that much because honestly I don’t like most of them and we already know what they are. Aubameyang, Ozil, Lacazette, Mustafi, and Kolasinac played towards the later part of the second half, and there really isn’t anything worth noting on them. Now on to the fun and exciting stuff:

The first two names that I think of during this game that excited me were Martinelli and Saka. Both of them showed pace, power, and dribbling, three qualities that Arsenal have severely lacked since losing Alexis, Ox, and Walcott. Saka had multiple great runs, one of which ended up in him scoring. Martinelli played on the opposite wing to the right-hand side, and he did a ton of damage including a goal in which he made a great run and had a creative finish with his shoulder/chest. It’s also worth noting that Martinelli had a tremendous work-rate throughout the game, coming back on defense a lot. It felt like he was all over the pitch.

This is really exciting to see because these two players could really fill voids in the squad this season if we choose to play with wingers. Iwobi and Mkhitaryan weren’t great as wingers last season, and the Aubameyang wing experiment was something I really disliked. I’d assume we’ll get a winger this window since that seems to be the position we’re really targeting, but these guys could see playing time as well.

Speaking of wingers, I was really bummed to not see Reiss Nelson in the squad today. He’s another player that could really see first-team minutes, probably more than Saka or Martinelli. The early stages of the Europa League will be a great place in incorporate these players into getting real minutes against respectable sides.

Moving on to the backline, I though goalkeeper Matt Macey was average at best. Didn’t really look to sure of himself back there but he did get a clean sheet so I won’t judge him too hard.

Besides Martinelli and Saka, I thought Zech Medley and Calum Chambers at centre back were fantastic. Medley just looked like a beast back there, a really nice frame with a lovely left foot. And Chambers looked sensational on the ball and when going into challenges, he ran the game from the back.

Another player I loved was Thompson at left-back, he was real threat linking with Saka during open play. He seemed to have a good speed and dribbling combination in his play which is something that is needed in the modern game from that position. He also provided a great assist in Martinelli’s goal. And Jenkinson at right-back just isn’t worth my time talking about, average at best.

In the midfield Olayinka played a great game as more of a defensive midfielder, including a stunning goal cutting from the left-hand side and hitting it into the top right corner with his right foot. Thought he ran the game well and had a good physical presence. His midfield partner Burton seemed to be more of a dribbling/passing midfielder with a small frame, but nonetheless he was solid. Didn’t do anything bad didn’t do anything tremendous.

Up front was Nketiah and John-Jules. Nketiah really impressed me with his link-up play, he was able to get out of tight situations with his dribbling while also being able to pick out a pass. He almost got his foot on the end of some great deliveries to him so he was positioned well. John-Jules, a player targeted by Bayern Munich, was relatively anonymous in my opinion. He was involved in the play some and tried to get some shots off, but overall I didn’t notice him too much. But what I did notice about him was his body, a really big guy.

Willock came on and didn’t really do anything of note. I’m excited to see what he does the rest of the tour, I’m a fan of his.

Next game will be against Bayern Munich on the 18th, should be a good test for all players. Hopefully a lot more players get involved to get ready for this tough season ahead. My Twitter is @thebostongooner.


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