Arsenal completed their pre-season preparations with a 2-0 win against Serie A side Lazio. Here, we look at the 5 major takeaways from the Gunners’ final pre-season friendly.

Unai Emery Experiments

Arsenal began the game with a 4-4-2 formation with the striking duo of Lacazette & Nketiah, Nelson and Iwobi out wide and Torreira and Xhaka in the central midfield. This formation is likely not Emery’s first choice as he prefers the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formations which would mean either pushing Aubameyang out wide or benching Lacazette, which the fans would not like. During the 2nd half, the formation shifted to 4-3-3 when Aubameyang replaced Nketiah and moved to the left, Iwobi moved to the right and Lacazette stayed central. The Arsenal boss has used every possibility to try out different formations and partnerships.

In the post-match interview, Emery said: “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.”

Guendouzi already a fan favourite

The French midfielder has clearly been one of the standout players in pre-season for Arsenal but it his popularity extends beyond the pitch. Matteo was at the heart of the fun and games when the players were doing the passing drill in training, at one point diving and pretending to need medical attention, making all his teammates laugh.

His celebration after his teammate Iwobi scored the winning penalty was a highlight as well. 

Unquestionably, the 19-year-old is already a strong fan favourite.

Leno or Cech?

After a strong performance by Petr Cech against Chelsea, it was clear that the no.1 spot at Arsenal was in strong contention. And against Lazio, Bernd Leno put in a brilliant performance as well. The 36-year-old or the 26-year-old, one thing is certain, it will be a formidable choice for Emery. 

In the post-match interview, Emery said: “The best for the team is to have the best goalkeeper with the best performances. Every match we’ve had good performances from Petr Cech and Bernd Leno and also from Emi Martinez, and for that I am happy. I am on the lookout for who will start in the first XI.” 

Torreira exactly what Arsenal need

Lucas Torreira’s crunching tackle on Marco Parolo left the Lazio man yelping in pain on the touchline. But the Uruguayan proved that he is more than just a scrapper in his unofficial debut for the club. The 22-year-old fills midfield holes swiftly and efficiently and screens the centre-backs and his touch is sure and he uses the ball well.

This was a regular start for Torreira, but with the fans expecting him to pull-off similar performance as the ones he did for Uruguay in the World Cup this year, he has much to live up to.

Maitland-Niles is good enough

With Sead Kolasinac out for up to 10 weeks and Nacho Monreal not featuring in any pre-season matches or training sessions, it seems like Ainsley Maitland-Niles will get the nod in their opening Premier League match against Manchester City.

However, this shouldn’t be a cause of worry for the fans. The young midfielder proved that he has plenty of pace and calmness against Lazio. Not lacking confidence or experience at the left-back position, Maitland-Niles carries the hopes of the Gunners’ fans.

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