So the real business of pre-season begins and we end up with one defeat and one win in the Emirates Cup.
After winning both games last season and ending up with no significant silverware, it’s fair to say that we shouldn’t read too much into these matches.
For long spells against a pretty experienced Juventus side, our young Guns more than held their own, and the offside nature of David Trezeguet’s goal was somewhat harsh on the Gunners.
Against Real Madrid, Arsene Wenger started with what could probably be our first choice team, with Philippe Senderos being replaced by Kolo Toure once the Ivorian is fit and well and Cesc replacing Denilson or Abou Diaby. Add Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky to that equation and it starts to look a very strong squad.
It was quite fitting that Manu Adebayor slotting in our goal against Real. After a few boos from the home side, we have to get behind him now and what better way to start healing the wounds than score against one of Europe’s biggest teams, even if it was just a pre-season match?
I was surprised that RVP and Adebayor played as long as they did yesterday and clearly, Arsene Wenger wants to wrap Cesc in cotton wool after a long and arduous season. I’m quite happy to see him sit out much of the Amsterdam Tournament as well, though it’s a fine line between resting him and getting him fit for the forthcoming campaign.
One of our correspondents made the point yesterday that Big Phil has had enough chances to establish himself in the team and yet continues to cause more concern than comfort. I’m all for backing out players come what may, but along with Manu Eboue, I’m not convinced too many Gooners would lament their departures.
I’d rather have Gareth Barry than both Eboue and Senderos – a real quality central defender, fullback and midfielder in one - but it’s clear his future is at Liverpool. I’m all for having a squad of depth, but quality over quantity is also important and those guys have exhausted my patience. Talk of Xabi Alonso is intriguing and I think he would be a worthy addition to our squad.
Did we learn anything new? Not really. I don't think anyone's performances were far better or worse than what we have come to expect of them in Arsenal colours.
With seven substitutes permitted next season, there is no doubt that some of the emerging youngsters will get more exposure on match days, even if Wenger will be reluctant to expose them too much too soon.
He is clearly irritated by the criticism of the lack of English players Arsenal are bringing through, even though the recent roll-call is hardly damning with C*shley Cole, James Harper, Steve Sidwell, David B*ntley and Fabrice Muamba all establishing themselves in the Premiership in recent years after coming through the Arsenal ranks.
Jack Wilshere, Mark Randall and Kieran Gibbs could all find themselves on the bench on occasions next season although the Carling Cup seems their best way of gaining first team experience.
Thankfully, no one got any injuries over the weekend and with only a fortnight to go until the season begins in earnest, that’s more important to me than winning pointless pre-season trophies.
What irony that Martin Jol ended up lifting a trophy in North London only once he’d left England to manage in Germany?