Three takeaways from Arsenal 1-1 Monaco (5-4 pens)


In their first pre-season game on home soil, Arsenal hosted their annual Emirates Cup series with a match against Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco. The whole meeting was centered around the celebration of Arsene Wenger, who of course has deep ties with both clubs. The Frenchman had his statue unveiled outside the stadium to leave him immortalised amongst the club’s folklore.  

Mikel Arteta used this exhibition as an opportunity to test new partnerships, tactics, and combinations in his squad. For the first time in a while, the Gunners can boast to have squad depth and the Spaniard certainly showcased that with a triumph on penalties.

Here are three takeaways from Arsenal’s 1-1 Monaco (5-4 pens). 

Timber can play inverted LB

It’s looking more and more likely that Oleksandr Zinchenko will miss the season’s curtain raiser against Manchester City on Sunday. Although still billed as a friendly, the Community Shield is a match Arteta will want to use to put out a statement. Without the Ukrainian, a main component of the manager’s fluid 4-3-3 system is at risk, a role used to create overloads in midfield.

The signing of Jurrien Timber has given Arteta the versatility he craves at the back and today the Dutchman proved his worth in gold. In an inverted LB role, the 22-year-old completed 84% of his passes, won 100% of his duels, and made 3 interceptions. Most importantly despite occupying central areas, Timber wasn’t dribbled past once and wasn’t found lacking in transition.   

Emile Smith-Rowe in the RCM role

A lot has been made about Emile Smith-Rowe’s future in North London, with many feeling that his constant injury problems won’t allow him to reach his full potential. Regardless of those negative connotations, Arteta has stuck by the 23-year-old and refuted all offers for his services.

Today, Smith-Rowe started his first game in an Arsenal shirt since 2021 and the boss deployed him in a different zone on the pitch. Emile started as an RCM, usually the role Martin Odegaard plays, tasked with sometimes doubling up with Fabio Vieira but also making third-man runs into the box.

All in all, it was an encouraging performance from the England international, and his presence will only add to Arteta’s growing arsenal (pun intended).

Partey at #6, Rice at #8

A few weeks ago, Thomas Partey was all but set to be leaving the Emirates for an incredible payday in Saudi Arabia. It’s said Arsenal were willing to sell the Ghanaian but only for a sizeable fee. That bid never came and now Arteta is left with the squad depth he craved for in midfield.  

The £105million signing of Declan Rice brought forth even more question marks about Partey’s importance to the team, but today Arteta showed us that the two can co-exist in the same XI. With Partey at the base and Rice as a box-to-box #8, the two started a game together for the very first time.

This may be a midfield setup we’ll see going forward, as Arteta seeks more physicality and competitiveness, especially in the big games. In fact, we could be witnessing the beginning of a Premier League-winning partnership.

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