North London Derby Watch: Observations From Woolwich’s Pre-Season Run in the International Champions Cup

  • Rival Round-up Report from Arsenal vs. Fiorentina, 20th July 2019

Nobody really likes hearing about Woolwich, so we’ll keep this brief – we promise.

Martinelli made a great run on the break against Fiorentina, right from barely beyond his own box, only to fluff it within metres of the goal (Fig. 1). Terrific run, though obviously not on par with Sonny’s lightning-fast dribbling abilities.

Fig. 1 – Martinelli got right out ahead of Fiorentina’s defence with a terrific run on the counter

As his goal in the 89th minute demonstrates, Willock has a habit of being in the right place at the right time – if Emery gives him more chances, he could be vital for Arsenal in the League. It’s worth noting that Willock’s goal came from an almost identical position to that of Nketiah’s 65th minute goal (and with similar build-up play) – suggesting that there’s something of an Emery tactical play going on here.

Fig. 2

Despite being a late sub, Willock was one of the stand-out performers of Arsenal’s Europa League Final against Chelsea. Most of his chances come at close range, from just left of centre (Fig. 2). He dribbles fairly fast (though his pace is far below that of, say, Lucas), and quite unpredictably, changing course with (relative) spontaneity. His positioning and off-the-ball intelligence are solid. However, he’s still relatively inexperienced and untested against world-class defenders. Really horrible dancing celebration, classic Woolwich. Alderweireld should be able to deal with him just fine, as long as we mark him closely and don’t underestimate him.
Nketiah obviously remains a promising contender for the Gooners – he scored the other two goals (15’, 65’) and they were both solid – his goal from the 15th showed persistence and awareness (Fig. 3), and his goal from 65th minute showed good positioning (Fig. 4).

Fig. 3
Fig. 4

The ongoing Koscielny saga is partial evidence of the fact that most of Arsenal’s hopes for the future are attacking players, and they remain rather lacklustre in defence – which really isn’t going to be great for them when they’re looking down the business end of a Kane-Son-Lucas-Dele press. ⚽