Arsenal rounded off their pre-season friendly schedule with a 2-0 win over Lazio in Stockholm last night.
The victory, courtesy of goals from Reiss Nelson and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, included ‘debuts’ for Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira, as well as minutes for the returning Granit Xhaka. It was a far from a fluid performance by the Gunners, however, that’s perhaps unsurprising given the tinkering that continues to take place on the training pitch.
After the match, Unai Emery explained that some of his players still aren’t at their physical peak and that he’s not yet committed to one particular formation.
“It’s a different match today for Lichtsteiner, Xhaka and Torreira,” the Spaniard told Arsenal.com.
“We want to give them these minutes for fitness and also so that they’re working together and tactically can start to work with us.
“In the first week it’s clear that they’re not at their best physically, but we want to continue working with them and if they are OK physically, mentally and in their performances, and better also than other players who were working with us, we could choose them in the first XI.”
He went on: “Each match is giving us information to continue to improve and continue to develop.
“Today we played with 4-4-2, to try this system and tweak our mentality, style and ideas, but for me in the first half the possession with the ball and control with the ball wasn’t as good as I wanted.
“It’s for that reason that we started the second half with three midfielders. I think in the second half we controlled the match better with this system.
“Today we tried in the second half and second half to choose the best system with the best players and best ideas, but I’m happy with this performance because they are working very well and improving also.”
Emery now has six days at London Colney to finalise his preparations for Sunday’s opening game of the season against Manchester City. As things stand it looks as though he’ll not have additional recruits to play with, so at this point it’s really about honing tactics and upping player fitness levels.
“My focus is on the first match and preparing, and not for the window and the possibility to sign another player,” he noted.
“Maybe we need some players to leave because we have lots in the squad, but at the moment, my one focus is on our work.”