Last year, Arsenal struggled to get on their own terms in preseason as the conditions available stifled their preparation and truncated their plans.
A trip to Scotland ended in a loss to Hibernian and a draw against Rangers. Their Florida Cup adventure was cancelled due to a number of COVID-19 cases in the squad.
The failure to get enough games and perfect their strategies before the season opener against then new boys, Brentford was telling on the team. It ended in a 2-0 loss in a game which had Folarin Balogun, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli as their three forwards.
Arsenal can look back to that terrible start one year ago – losses to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City and feel it is one of the reasons they’re in the Europa League this season.
Just a year after that appalling start, Arsenal look much more safer and readier.
Who have Arsenal signed?
Good transfer businesses have been conducted with the signing of former Man City stars Olek Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, Fabio Vieira, Matt Turner, Marquinhos, and the return of William Saliba from a loan spell at Marseille. The Gunners look a much more stronger team with known winners ready to charge the rest of the team.
There are many reasons to be excited at the Emirates and the Arsenal management must look at their squad and realise with one or two additional signings, they can have a push for a place amongst Europe’s elites again.
While the fear that the squad is still some injuries away from capitulation lurks around, there are genuine reasons to be hopeful and chief of those reasons is their Brazilian signing, Jesus.
Jesus was signed by Man City from Palmeiras as one of the brightest youngsters in his country and despite getting limited time to show himself at the Etihad, his presence was always felt.
At 25, there was an urgent need for the player to grow into who he sees himself as and that makes his Arsenal move an informed one. He’s a star in the squad and will get more playing time and can grow with the young Arsenal team, which is probably the youngest in the league and one of the youngest in Europe.
Three Gabriels, one Jesus: Emirates the ‘heaven’, Emirates the haven
Arsenal looked exciting many times at the Emirates last year and showed a capacity to be devastating in front of their fans. But for an avoidable red card by Gabriel Malghalaes, they may even have ended their runs of losses against Manchester City. From an Arsenal perspective, that’s growth.
This season also promises to be exciting for the Arsenal faithful especially at the Emirates and with the presence of Jesus in the squad.
The forward has bedded to Arsenal like plant to the soil. He clearly understands what the coach demands of him and has given it with aplomb since he joined the team.
His delicate chip against Chelsea in preseason showed a player getting more confident in front of goal. His last season run at Man City must have been a significant impetus for what he’s showing at the moment.
Against Sevilla, his three goals had a general theme – desire, but each of them also had more than that in their individual differences. While his first goal was a show of innate sense of responsibility to be there at all times, as he put the Sevilla defenders on and dashed to the box, his second showed presence of mind and a pure striker’s instinctive movement. The third was a result of good positioning.
Jesus is already showing a promising connection with Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka and that can only be good for the squad.
Despite some injuries faced already during preseason to Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira, Arsenal have looked very good and may have gotten their men in Jesus and others.
Unlike the previous season, their signings this term look readier and the business of their acquisition has been faster.
There, however, remains some pieces to complete the jigsaw and if Mikel Arteta is to be followed, there may be more business in the coming days. It could probably be Arsenal’s time to earn from their faith in the Spaniard and have a reward for their long years of misses. It takes a long time to build courage, but it takes a loss for questions to return in football.
Their opener against Crystal Palace on Friday will set the tone for the season and the reality that every result until that moment hardly matters must be pressing, but with three national team captains in the squad, Arsenal are not short of leaders. The message must be clear.
Jesus, most importantly, is in business and to faith, that means a lot. His presence, Arsenal will hope can bring the magical touch.