December 9, 2022

Reporter notebook: On tour with Arsenal in America | Football News

“Stand back, Sir, club executives coming through.” Orlando owners? No, it was Stan and Josh…

“Stand back, Sir, club executives coming through.”

Orlando owners? No, it was Stan and Josh Kroenke being ushered into Orlando’s Exploria Stadium via the media entrance.

Following them close behind was a smiling Edu, happy to stop and shake hands with fans. You could not wipe the smile off his face. It was the look of a man who’s just sealed another major signing for Arsenal.

Oleksandr Zinchenko’s arrival will put Arsenal at the top of the Premier League spending. Zinchenko – who sat in the stands alongside Edu as Arsenal beat Orlando City 3-1 in their latest pre-season friendly in the United States – represents another deal done relatively quickly but now it’s sealed, the word is it’s been on the cards for a while.

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Mikel Arteta called Oleksandr Zinchenko an ‘exceptional player’ as the Ukrainian edges closer to completing his move to Arsenal

Arteta is a big fan and Zinchenko wanted to work with him again after Arteta’s assistant coach role at Manchester City.

On Monday, Aaron Ramsdale told me it was important to sign winners – the England ‘keeper giving a slight nudge about the deal before we recorded the interview. Of course, he was talking about Gabriel Jesus, too. Jesus and Zinchenko bring their eight Premier League medals with them and countless domestic cup accolades.

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Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale reflects on the signing of Gabriel Jesus, his first season at the club and what he has to do in order to have a chance of playing for England at the World Cup

Arteta refused to rule out more signings in his brief post-match press conference but did admit the squad is beginning to look a little heavy and some will move on.

“We have a big squad and now we have to make things happen,” said the Arsenal boss.

“We have a large squad so we have to make some decisions as well on the players that we’re not going to be using consistently and be fair and straight with them and that’s a process that is going to start very soon.”

What was learnt against Orlando?

All in all, the win over Orlando represented another good workout for the squad.

Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson scored the goal as the Gunners won 3-1.

Did Arteta learn much? Perhaps a realisation some of his fringe players might be better off elsewhere and something he will know already – he has a gem in Gabriel Jesus. The Brazil striker was very sharp when he came on. The man that signed him, Edu, will be speaking to me on Saturday…

What else did we see?

Rob Holding was yellow-carded in the first minute and endured a frustrating hour before being substituted.

Of the fringe players who started the game, Nuno Tavares, Pablo Mari, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sambi Lokonga and Nicolas Pepe did not do enough to stake a claim in Arteta’s opening weekend first 11.

Hector Bellerin had a seven-minute cameo at the end of the game but is still expected to leave.

One other thing of note: Martin Odegaard given the armband when he came on in the second half. There has not been any official confirmation yet, but it seems likely Arteta will choose the Norwegian to be the club’s next full-time captain when the season begins.