Hi, all. So yesterday was Day 1 of the Emirates Cup, and the first chance this (pre) season to see our team in action at the Emirates. The game was sold out, which is always good to see, even if it’s only pre-season.
The first game saw Celtic take on Lyon. Not going to dwell too much on it really, as only the result is of any importance to us. But Lyon took the lead through a fabulous free-kick by Bastos in the first half. Good goal. Lyon then made it 2, early in the second half. Not a bad goal either; a swift counter-attacking goal. But Celtic rallied and were the better team in the second half, and when their goal came with 8 minutes to go, the whole stadium applauded appreciatively, because they deserved it. And their comeback was complete in the last minute, thanks to a header from a free-kick by the influential Samaras.
3 points for both team, seeing as you get a point for each goal scored.
So unto the more important game, Arsenal v AC Milan. Considering the quality of all the teams we’ve played so far, AC Milan were obviously going to be the trickiest, seeing as they’re a quality team, albeit an ageing one. We were playing 4-4-3, although at times, it looked more like 4-1-4-1, with Chamakh up on his own in the first half, and Theo later on in the second half. The starting line-up was:
Gibbs, Vermaelen (c) Koscielny Eboue
Arshavin Wilshere Nasri Rosicky
I think most of us were more interested to see how Chamakh and Koscielny played, especially as it was their Emirates debut than anything else, but a good team display was important.
We started on the front foot, as we usually do at the Emirates, but it was more possession-wise, than chances created. But we got into our stride and created more. Vermaelen got into the action, but his shot was tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper. But we were not having it our own way, with Flamini, who was trying to impress it seemed, seeing his effort hit the bar, after taking a wicked deflection off Koscielny.
But the goal came eventually. Arshavin made a surging run down the left, then found Chamakh just by the penalty spot, and he made no mistake, sliding the ball past the goalkeeper, with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Good goal, and Chamakh’s first at the Emirates!
We had more chances to increase our lead, but Rosicky shot straight at the goalkeeper, after good work on the right from Nasri. Pato did have a chance for Milan just before half-time, but his curling shot from the right just going over. A reminder that we weren’t going to have things all our own way.
Arsene made 3 changes at half-time, with Theo, Sagna and Clichy replacing Rosicky, Eboue, Gibbs. All 3 had played well, and it’s really good to see Gibbs back playing. There was a half-time presentation, what for, I don’t remember, but Bendtner and Ramsey were out there with the presentation group. Really awesome seeing Ramsey walking, and I can’t wait to see him back in action, whenever that may be.
Theo was into the action straight-away, using his pace down the right, crossing for Arshavin, but a defender got back in time. Good play all round. Chamakh got into the action down the left, his neat-flick putting Arshavin through, but his effort was saved, and Wilshere couldn’t get to the rebound quickly enough.
Vela then replaced Arshavin after 63 minutes, with Djourou replacing Frimpong after 69 minutes, and it was interesting to see that Arsene played him as the holding midfielder. Man-of-the-match Chamakh also had a break, with Mark Randall replacing him.
Vela impressed, taking on 2 defenders brilliantly down the left, ignored the attentions of a third, but his curling shot narrowly missed the top-corner! Would have been special. The game well and truly took on a pre-season feel, with the Mexican waves going on and on. No one really seemed to be focusing on what was happening on the pitch, and next thing you know, Milan score! It took a second for it to register, but they were level! Free-kick from Seedorf (who was cheered every time he took a corner), headed in off the post by Pato, with 13 minutes to go! Not really the best time to concede a goal, with the game having lost its competitive edge, it seemed.
We did have the chance to re-take the lead though, with Mark Randall having two chances, but he shot straight at the ‘keeper first, and really should have scored with the rebound, but did the same thing! Milan then had the chance to win it, but luckily for us, Zambrotta’s effort from outside the box hit the bar, shortly before full-time!
So the match ended 1-1. We really should have made our early advantage count, but a draw was a fair result in the end. Which means as far as the Emirates Cup title is concerned, we’re joint-bottom with Milan, with 2 points each! Not really a problem, as we could still win it, depending on the results of today’s games.
But winning or losing the trophy isn’t what we’re really interested in, it’s seeing how well-prepared we are for the season about to start. Our 2 new signings impressed, with Chamakh getting the goal, and Koscielny drawing applause from the fans every so often, with his performance. I guess his real test is yet to come, and if he gets the chance to face Drgoba, we’ll all be watching eagerly. But anyways, that’s for another day.
As for Wilshere, the star of last season’s Emirates Cup. He wasn’t as impressive as he was last year, but he’s still got one more game to impress, if he gets the chance to play today. That’s not the say he had an awful game, just that he wasn’t as influential. He’ll get more opportunities soon, I’m sure. Fabianski played the whole game, and it was interesting to see that Almunia wasn’t in the squad, despite being captain last time we played. Fabianski did okay, but he wasn’t put under much pressure by Milan, and couldn’t do anything about the goal conceded. Frimpong did okay, but he needs a run of games to help with his confidence. Wenger does seem to have faith in him, and if he features much during the course of the season, I hope he takes it.
Can’t think of anything more to add really. Looking forward to the second round of games later on today- we take on Celtic, while Lyon take on Milan. We really should beat Celtic, and hopefully we score a few and get to retain the Emirates Cup!