Tag Archives: preseason

Arsenal 1-2 Sevilla – Emirates Cup Review

Published on The Arsenal Review

Arsenal fell to a disappointing loss in their second and final game of the Emirates Cup, but still won the pre-season competition.

Sevilla were game opponents, but Arsene Wenger’s men could only blame themselves after failing to truly stretch the Spanish side.

Wenger opted for a much stronger side than the eleven that smacked five past Benfica the previous day. Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hector Bellerin, Mesut Özil and Alexander Lacazette all came into the side, and hopes were high that another goal-rich display was in the offing.

The moves on the pitch did not match the illustrious names in the team though. Our midfield – with young Jo Willock – was often easily bypassed, and our attacks too often were left wanting a decisive ball.

All of these criticisms can be amended with more match practice, and a percentage of our lackadaisical play can be attributed to the fact that it was a friendly game – so no real cause for alarm.

Still, it’s never nice seeing your side play at half capacity of what they’re capable of, and that was the theme of the match. The first half especially was a timid affair, but if any team had the better of the chances it was Sevilla. Cech was tested a couple of times, but nothing too strenuous – which was in line with the whole game.

Arsenal did eke out a few chances, with Hector Bellerin guilty of a glaring miss on the volley at the back post, but the general feel was that we never got out of second gear, and neither did our opponents. Bellerin was soon to come off though, with Cohen Bramall replacing him.

You could tell it was a pre-season warm-up game, and anyone who witnessed the game can say with some certainty that next week’s Community Shield game versus Chelsea will definitely see much more effort.

The first half petered out, but the second half soon saw a goal – unfortunately it went to Sevilla.

Ben Yedder was a player that was linked to us heavily last year, and it was the former Ligue Un player that made the difference with a great pass to Joaquin Correa, who put it past Cech.

The 60th minute saw the usual tradition of substitutions, but this time we only saw one, with Granit Xhaka coming on for the willing but out of his depth Jo Willock. The youngster has a tidy touch but was overrun in this game. His time will come though.

Only two minutes later, we had an equaliser, and it came from our new boy, Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman made the most of his first home start, as a cross from The Ox left the Sevilla defence all at sea, and Lacazette finished from close range.

A scoring team is always most at risk from conceding soon after, and this was the case again. Seven minutes after Lacazette’s goal, Steven N’Zonzi – he of Blackburn and Stoke at one time – picked the ball up outside the box and finished beautifully over Cech.

There was enough time to find another equaliser, and Arsene Wenger ordered reinforcements to find it, with Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on for Lacazette and Elneny. The fresh legs did nothing to increase our goal threat though, and there was very little urgency.

The game finished at 2-1 to Sevilla, but Arsenal still won the Emirates Cup thanks to more goals scored than the La Liga side. It means very little, and the first acid test will be against Chelsea for the Community Shield.

All in all, the Emirates Cup provided ample game time for our youngsters and another step towards match sharpness for our first teamers. A worthwhile exercise, as this season demands improvement on the last.

Viking Stavanger 0-8 Arsenal – 5 Things We Learned

Our pre-season brought another tour, this time to the shores of Norway. Two matches will be played in this part of Scandinavia, and first up was Viking Stavanger.

The calibre of opponent matters to a degree in a friendly game, but more pertinent at this stage is each players level of fitness and match sharpness. Viking provided a decent test in the first half, but fell away like a chocolate fireguard in the second half in the face of soem impressive movement from the Gunners attack.

So what can we take away from this match? Here is five things that arose from our mauling of the Vikings….

Santi Cazorla isn’t fit, but we need him to be.

Some fans are of the opinion that our title challenge began to falter the moment our talented Spaniard was crocked midway through our season. They’d be right. Santi has been battling back to fitness ever since, and he managed ninety minutes for the first time this summer versus Viking. It was primarily down to Cazorla’s vision and impetus that Arsenal managed to ravage Stavanger, and the whole teams transition speed was so far removed from last seasons showings. We NEED Santi in our side, our style of play demands it.

Stavanger were NOT a test, but who cares.

The first half saw Viking provide an examination of sorts. Well, they made life difficult for our attack by stifling our forward line. Only one goal was plundered, and it was thanks to a great header from Mohamed Elneny met by an onrushing Joel Campbell who diverted it into the net. The second half though, was either a massive disparity between the class in sides – or just Stavanger committing footballing Hari-Kiri. Huge pockets of space opened up – manna from heaven for our side – and the Norwegians dropped ever deeper. We profited hugely from these niave tactics, but the value of victory was lessened somewhat. Consolation? It was massive fun to watch.

Bielik is growing in stature

The young Pole is a midfield convert, but his imperious displays in the centre of defence – even with Gabriel alongside him – are beginning to gain attention from Gooners. He has covered himself in glory in all of his friendly appearances thus far, and his calmness belies his teenage years. That is the scary thing though – he is still 18. If he continues along this projected improvement, then he may just make the jump to the first team. If he plays versus Manchester City on Sunday, it may just be a signal that Bielik can look forward to a Premier League debut this season.

Alex Iwobi is here to stay

The young Nigerian only appeared for the second half, but his impact was immediate. Yes, Stavanger invited pressure onto themselves, but despite their tactics, their are certain aspects of play that can be looked into. Iwobi’s touch was flawless, his decison making was also brilliant. It is this latter variable that usually improves with age, but Iwobi seems to have this down rather well. With each transfer that prospectively comes through the door, the chance for a player such as Iwobi to make a breakthrough becomes ever smaller. This is by no measure a defence of the nadir of our signing aspirations, just a healthy dose of realism. Iwobi beat the odds, and he is here to stay.

Joel Campbell is vital

Last season during our annual injury crisis, all hands were on the pump. One of them was Joel Campbell, and with every match, he showed how good he truly is. Exemplary vision, great stamina and a good touch, the Costa Rican was at it again against Viking. He scored two and was a constant menace. What a player we have to fall back on. In fact, at this current time, only Aaron Ramsey stands ahead of him in the current pecking order for the right hand side. We would be mad to oust Campbell, but if he isn’t playing, he will have many a suitor that would jump at the chance to give him the stage he deserves. 
There were many other candidates that impressed. Mathieu Debuchy seems fully intent on impressing a potential new club, Gibbs looked good in the first half before being replaced, and Ospina did himself no harm. 

Theo though, still has a massive amount of critics, and after the last couple of years, he cannot be surprised by the vitriol. He again had moments where he fumbled possession, but he also made intelligent runs and never hid from the ball. His goal showed great control, but it will hardly convert the doubters. A full season, without injury, and I remain confident that he can prove his worth. Cue the fury….

Two goals for Joel Campbell, two for Iwobi, with Cazorla, Akpom, Walcott and an own goal were the beneficiaries of the Norwegian team’s generosity, and the diluted obstacle that was Stavanger may attract detractors. 

This match was not the sternest of tests, but our players touch, awareness and fitness are ever closer to the levels required for Premier League combat. So by that regard, this match was a big success. 

Next up, we have Manchester City on Sunday the 7th, to conclude our tour in Norway.  That will be the litmus test for our side, with our domestic opener against Liverpool seven days later. 

So far, so good though. Thank you Viking Stavanger for giving us a game, and some extra confidence.