Arsenal may have undergone major surgery this summer, but the problems that have haunted them in recent seasons were still evident against Manchester City on Sunday.
Daft defensive errors and a failure to implement an effective pressing style – although there were some notable improvements in that regard – ensured a comfortable victory for the Premier League champions.
But despite a tough defeat on the first day, there were certainly encouraging signs for Unai Emery’s team; namely young midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, whose tenacious attitude and relentless enthusiasm was swiftly admired by the Emirates faithful.
Plucked from the second division of French football with Lorient, Guendouzi was guilty of making a litany of errors against Guardiola’s men.
But despite his mistakes, the 19-year-old never hid or stopped making himself an option for his teammate in possession, and his desire to positively impact things in the dying embers of the clash predictably resonated with those in the stands. He had far and away the most touches (71) of any Arsenal player on the field.
And the fans quickly took to the midfielder, who impressed Emery enough in the pre-season to play ahead of Lucas Torreira, although the Uruguayan international joined his new team late because of his exploits with his country at the World Cup in Russia.
The strong relationship he appears to be forging so early on with the fans of his new club contrasts with the rapport he had with his former coach in Lorient, Mickael Landreau, who banished Guendouzi from the first team for three months after the player reacted badly to being substituted at half-time in a match against Valenciennes.
The youngster would miss the final four games of last season, as he set his sights on a transfer away from the Stade du Moustoir. Tottenham and Manchester City approached with interest, but the French youth international chose the Gunners and made a €10 million switch to North London.
And a now relatively modest outlay could prove a bargain if Guendouzi improves on the positives of his performance against Manchester City, who were able to present a formidable line-up even with superstars like Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane, among their substitutes.
The former Paris-Saint Germain youth prospect made four tackles and four interceptions as he attempted to nullify Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva, and conceded only one foul and completed 81% of his 47 passes.
There is, of course, plenty of room for improvement, but if Guendouzi can adjust enough to survive in the Premier League, Arsenal appear to have bagged themselves a player with the ability and tenacity that can help lead them back to the coveted top four.