In just over a week’s time, Arsenal will kick-off the 2020/21 Premier League campaign against newly-promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The Gunners will make the short trip across the capital aiming to make the perfect start to the new Premier League season and build on last weekend’s FA Community Shield victory over Liverpool at Wembley. After seeing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sumptuous opener cancelled out by Takumi Minamino, the Gunners got the job done on penalties, winning 5-4.
It was the perfect way to start the new season and continue the winning trend that was set at the end of last season.
But even though Mikel Arteta has successfully added another piece of silverware to the Gunners’ trophy cabinet, full focus is now on next Saturday’s clash with Fulham and ensuring they can hit the ground running at the start of another action packed Premier League season.
And with pre-season having been much shorter this time around, Arsenal’s players having been putting the hard yards in on the training ground more than ever to ensure they are ready for the big kick-off.
- Ozil trains
Since football returned back in June, following the lockdown period, Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal future has been a hot topic.
The former Real Madrid midfielder, who joined the Gunners back in 2013, has not played for the club since Saturday, March 7 – the final Premier League game before lockdown.
There has been plenty of speculation that the German could leave the club this summer, with his future at the club seemingly in doubt. However, Arteta has vowed to wipe the slate clean for everyone ahead of the new season, meaning Ozil could be handed the chance to resurrect his Gunners career.
And on Thursday, the midfielder was involved in first-team training, and certainly appeared to be enjoying himself. He was snapped donning a massive smile on his face, potentially suggesting that he could soon be back in Arteta’s plans.
- New coach sets to work
Arsenal chief Arteta bolstered his coaching staff last week with the addition of Andreas Georgson from Championship outfit Brentford.
Georgson arrived at the Emirates Stadium last week after being head of set-pieces and individual development at the Bees.
The Swedish coach only joined Brentford back in January and was quickly poached by Arsenal after the impact he had in West London.
After the success he brought to the table at the Bees, Arsenal will be hoping he can implement the similar qualities in North London.
- Excellent spirits
After winning the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield in the last five weeks, Arsenal’s players have every right to be feeling happy and confident.
After winning two pieces of silverware in the last few weeks, as well as defeating two of the Premier League’s heavyweights in the process, Arsenal’s players will fancy their chances of hitting the ground running at the start of the Premier League campaign.
After facing Fulham on the opening day, the Gunners’ second game of the season sees them host West Ham United. It is the perfect opportunity for Arteta’s troops to hit the ground running and claim six points out of six to start the season.
And judging by Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang’s characteristics on Thursday, the Gunners are confident about the start of the season being right around the corner. Both players were captured grinning from ear to ear, suggesting that confidence and morale within the camp is high.
- Martinez kept on his toes
After starring towards the back-end of last season and starting last Saturday’s win over Liverpool, Elimiano Martinez will be determined to retain his place in the starting line-up for the trip to Fulham.
The Argentine won plenty of fans for his performances at the end of last term, following the season-ending injury Bernd Leno picked up in the defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion back in June. The former Sheffield Wednesday loanee earned plenty of plaudits for his showings and was a key part of the team that lifted the FA Cup.
There has been plenty of speculation about the shot-stopper’s future, with several reports claiming that he could leave the Emirates Stadium if Leno is reinstalled as Arteta’s No.1 between the sticks.
But Martinez appeared to be the main goalkeeper in action during Thursday’s training session, with the 28-year-old keeping guard during a training match.
- Youngster involved
Ever since Arteta landed the Arsenal job back in December last year, the Spaniard has been keen for young players at the club to get the opportunity to train with the first-team.
And that trend continued on Thursday as left-back Tolaji Bola was involved in first-team training.
The 22-year-old defender, who is yet to make his first-team debut for the Gunners, is highly rated by the Arsenal coaching staff and will no doubt be looking to try and secure himself a place in Arteta’s plans moving forward.
With less turnaround time between fixtures this season due to the tight schedule, Bola will be aiming to get a chance to taste first-team football for the very first time.
With that in mind, it is key that he continues to impress during training when rubbing shoulders with some of the Gunners’ household names.