Arsenal's embarrassing season opener highlights need for transfers

Martin Macdonald
Arteta claims that Arsenal insiders were trying to ‘hurt’ the club

It can be a dangerous game reading too much into pre-season matches, but Arsenal's defeat by Scottish Premiership side Hibernian will certainly be a cause of concern for Mikel Arteta.

Like most of the bigger sides around Europe, Arsenal are waiting on a few internationals returning from the European Championship, namely Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tierney and Granit Xhaka.

Upon discovering that the Gunners were beaten 2-1 by the third-best team in Scotland on Tuesday, fans would have been forgiven for thinking that the Premier League outfit had played a team of youngsters.

Although plenty of young players were given an opportunity through several substitutions, while Harry Clarke started the game, Mikel Arteta named an experienced line-up in the match in Edinburgh.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Willian, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari and Cedric were among the starters.

Thus, it will be a source of worry for Arteta that not only did Arsenal lose 2-1, but they actually went down 2-0 in the game.

The first goal was a calamity by young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo as he allowed Martin Boyle to nick the ball away and pass into the empty net, while the second presented some shocking set-piece defending as Daniel MacKay headed in at the back post.

Though Arsenal did create plenty of chances, hitting the woodwork a couple of times and missing a penalty - so did Hibs.

In the first half especially, Jack Ross's side flooded forward and, at times, Arsenal looked rattled.

It was only after the introduction of Emile Smith Rowe that they found their verve and it was he who scored the consolation goal at the back post.

Aubameyang and Willian, perhaps crucially, didn't look up to much, despite a summer off.

As mentioned previously, it is a fool's errand to read too much into pre-season friendlies, but the manner of this defeat was poor and Arsenal fans have already vented their anger, with #ArtetaOut already embarrassingly trending on Twitter.

This was also a decent opportunity for the likes of Nelson and Maitland-Niles to give Arteta confidence in their ability to be part of the squad moving forward, but both now have work to do to achieve that.

Arsenal's recruitment

Some positive news for Arsenal is that they are indeed working hard behind the scenes on recruitment, and are believed to be close to concluding some deals.

They are set to announce the signing of 21-year-old Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga for €17.5m, with the fee potentially rising another €3.5m with bonuses.

Arsenal have already signed Nuno Tavares from Benfica, who will come in to provide some competition and support at left-back for Tierney.

Ben White

Ben White

In the centre of defence, Ben White has been targeted since the summer and the club are locked in talks with Brighton over a £50m deal for the England international.

With Hector Bellerin campaigning to leave for Inter, a new right-back will be required.

Since it was confirmed that Martin Odegaard would not be returning on a permanent basis from Real Madrid, a new number 10 is also a priority for Arteta.

James Maddison is their primary target, but they will likely be priced out of a move for him.

Xhaka could leave for Roma, and the player Arteta wants to replace him is Euro 2020 Italy hero Manuel Locatelli. However, Locatelli is likely to join Juventus instead.