Unai Emery’s Arsenal tenure got underway at Boreham Wood on Saturday, with his team romping to an 8-0 scoreline - but did this match give us any clues as to the Spaniard’s plans for the season?
The opponent could well be derided and was much of the reason for the comprehensive scoreline - but only four years ago we played the same team and scraped to a 2-0 win, so positives can be taken.
One huge pointer was what happened at half-time. The entire team who took to the field for the first half was replaced - and the team that was taken off then hotfooted it back to London Colney to take part in yet more training. This is a massive indicator that Emery wants his men fighting fit, and feels his team are not quite where he needs them to be, which is understandable.
This dedication to training is a big plus and it looks like no stone will be left unturned in the quest to eke out the most from his squad. This wasn’t the only clue Emery left at Boreham Wood though.
Calum Chambers recently penned an extension on his deal, and the England man was utilised in a new way when he came on in the second half. The central defender, many people’s pick for the preferred partner to Sokratis at the back, was used as a holding midfielder, coming on for Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Chambers did as well as he could given the opposition's gulf in class, but could this be a sign of the future for Chambers?
Perhaps not, with the signing of Lucas Torreira it would see Chambers spending time on the bench, but if Emery opts for his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, then an injury or two to Torreira and Xhaka could call for an emergency - and knowing Chambers can adapt and play in that role could save Emery a few sleepless nights.
There were a few youngsters who impressed too. Eddie Nketiah grabbed a goal and an assist, as did Reiss Nelson - and Jeff Reine-Adelaide reminded us all that he is still a talent waiting to blossom.
The most interesting part of the game though, was the emergence of Emile Smith-Rowe. spectators of the Under18 and Under23 sides will know this kid has magic in his boots, and the attacking midfielder did his chances of going on the Singapore trip no harm with a display full of attacking intent and great touches.
It was a great start for Unai Emery, and will give him food for thought regarding who makes his squad for the PL campaign.