Arsene Wenger picked a fairly strong team from those he has available at the moment, but he also possibly held a few players back for Sunday's game against Manchester City. Noteable absentees were Petr Cech, Calum Chambers and Granit Xhaka who might have played and didn't while Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez should probably see some action against City. Cech apparently has an eye infection but he should be fit to play Liverpool next week while Chambers and Xhaka don't appear to be in any doubt.
Arsenal were in control from the start and would have taken an early lead, but Santi Cazorla had his penalty saved. Cazorla was captain for this game with Per Mertesacker on the long term injured list and must be considered to keep the post in Mertesacker's absence. We were told he was a bit short of fitness for the Liverpool game, but he played the full 90 minutes and was the star performer for me.
The Viking goalkeeper continued his heroics in the first half, but Joel Campbell eventually made the breakthrough when he slid in to finish off a header from Mohamed Elneny which looked like it might have gone in anyway. There was still some hope for Viking at half time with only Campbell's goal separating the teams, but that soon changed after the break. Arsenal made three changes at the break and their early pressure paid off with four more goals before the hour mark.
Those goals came from Cazorla, Theo Walcott, an own goal and Campbell again and the game was over as a contest at that point. Three more goals were added in the last 20 minutes with Alex Iwobi grabbing a brace and Chuba Akpom adding the final goal right at the end. There were some good goals among those eight goals and they made the game very enjoyable to watch.
City will present a much tougher test on Sunday, but you can only beat the team you play and Arsenal certainly did that in style last night. I think the team we see against City will be something close to the one which starts the season against Liverpool next week. We already know Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud won't play against Liverpool and I imagine Ramsey and Alexis are unlikely to play from the start too.
That's five players from the probable starting lineup who won't be on from the start due to international commitments in the summer and it's going to make the opening fixture particularly difficult. Liverpool will be expected to do a lot better this season as Klopp's first full season in charge and a win away to Arsenal would be a great way for them to start. We're short of our strongest lineup in defence, midfield and attack and it's going to be a struggle to get something from the game.
Even with all of our attacking players available we are goal shy, but the removal of last season's top two scorers only makes matters worse. As bad as the need for a new striker is we need Giroud available as soon as possible despite his shortcomings. He's the only fit proven striker in the squad and the only other options as a central striker at the moment are Walcott, Akpom or maybe even Campbell.
Walcott wanted to be considered as a striker, but he has now decided he's a wide right pkayer again and he has done nothing to convince me he is the man to start up front against Liverpool. Akpom has managed a few goals so far in his limited opportunities in the pre season games and probably has more of a striker's instinct than any of the other choices, but he's very much unproven. The last option might be Campbell and I think he could be the best option despite not really being an out and out striker. I've been impressed with him in pre season and I think he's the most likely of the three to get on the scoresheet in that game.
While Cazorla was the man of the match for me I was also impressed with Campbell and Iwobi did well when he came on too. I had hoped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would continue his good form of the last few games, but he didn't do much in the 45 minutes he played. Maybe he might have done better if he had stayed on for the second half when Arsenal scored seven goals, but I had hoped to see him continue on his recent vein.
The chances are Chamberlain will be in the starting team against Liverpool and he has a chance to disprove the doubters early this season. If it doesn't go well for him in those early games he could find himself taking a back seat when the rest of the squad are fully available again. It's a big season for him and his performances could make or break him as a player at the highest level.
We might get a better idea of where the team are before the season starts in the City game on Sunday, but these games count for little in reality. The real football doesn't begin until next week and the pace of the games before then just isn't the same. I can't say I'm overly confident ahead of that Liverpool game, but hopefully that will change as the game approaches.
Finally for today there's still time to join my Fantasy League and my Predictions Leagur for the new season. There's a €50 prize for the fantasy league and it's open to anyone to join.
To join my fantasy league go to the official site and set up your team after entering your details. Once you've set up your team go to the league's option and join a private league. The code for my league (Ever Arsenal league) is 64693-22498 and there's already well over 500 teams in it.
For my predictions league go to the official site and make your forecasts for the first set of games (you can change them later if you want) and then go to the mini leagues option. Go to the join a mini league option (invitation code) and use the code for my league 64693-215432 to sign up. After that you can join in the fun of predicting every single game in the upcoming season.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.