Henry (Emirates) Cup.

So the Emirates Cup was on this weekend, and with Henry’s team, the New York Red Bulls playing, the tournament had that extra special feel to it. Couldn’t watch the matches in Saturday, because ESPN and I aren’t friends, but I was at the Emirates today. There was a rumour going round Twitter that Henry would be playing the second-half in Arsenal colours, but it turned out to be false, (un)fortunately.

With us drawing yesterday against Boca Juniors, losing a two-goal lead in the process, we had to beat the Red Bulls (no, this isn’t an F1 blog post, I promise you!) to win the tournament. but obviously, it being pre-season, winning the tournament wasn’t as important as putting in a good performance.

Kieran should be blogging tomorrow, so I’ll try to keep this post as short as possible.

We started the match with a strong XI, with Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho and van Persie starting. Not really sure what happened, but shortly after the match kicked off, Wilshere had to be subbed, with Afobe replacing him. He went straight down the tunnel, but hopefully it wasn’t/isn’t anything major.

The first half, and indeed the whole match, was typical Arsenal, or rather, the Arsenal of most of last season. It’s not surprising really, as the personnel has hardly changed. We saw loads of the ball, kept it relatively well, but it all managed to break down in the final third, with us always wanting that extra pass. I bet if we tried to shoot sometimes, it wouldn’t actually hurt us physically. Someone needs to let them know.  Henry’s team weren’t any better than us, but they were able to keep us a bit quiet, with Henry posing their main threat. He showed time after time that he’s still got it, forcing Szczesny to make top saves. We eventually made the breakthrough towards the end of the first half through *who else?* Robin van Persie, with Rosicky providing the assist. I’ve got to say, I was impressed with Rosicky today. Yes, he did lose the ball once or twice, but his application wasn’t faulty, sliding into tackles and trying to make things happen. Would have been great if he got a goal.

The second half was more of the same, with the Red Bulls a bit more of a threat, but we looked the more likely to score, so you can pretty much guess what happened. We dilly-dallied, bit of inspiration from Henry with an assist, and the New York Red Bulls were level, with Kyle Bartley unfortunately slicing the ball into his own net! I do have high hopes for Bartley, and I thought he’d get a chance this season, but apparently he’s back to Rangers on loan again.

With that goal though, we were no longer in pole position for the Emirates Cup, with NYRB winning it if we didn’t score again. There wasn’t much intensity throughout the match, with the Mexican waves being out in full force well before half-time, but the last 5 minutes got a bit intense, as the crowd tried urging the players forward to get that goal. But it didn’t come, and we ended up drawing.

It’s a bit hard to analyse this match, as it was a friendly, but good points to draw from it are the fact that Robin van Persie hasn’t lost his goal-scoring form; Rosicky looks like he *might* hit some good form; Vermaelen looks like he can play more than a third of the season, with his injury having fully healed (fingers crossed). I didn’t really see much of Gervinho today, and the little I did see of him, he reminded me of a shorter version of Adebayor, mainly because of his stature, I hope! It would have been great to win this match, and it’s slightly worrying that we haven’t won many matches in pre-season. But like someone tweeted, I’d rather have a bad pre-season and have a stonking season, than the other way round.

I still think we need to be more active in the window, but I’ll leave that to Arsene’s judgement as to who and what position, but it is obvious that we are one or two players short of a winning team- one in defence, one in midfield.

I think I’ll stop typing now, because there isn’t much left to be said. We might not have won the Emirates Cup this season, but seeing as it’s the only silverware we’ve been winning these past few seasons, maybe not winning it this year might be a sign that that we’ve got better silverware coming our way this season! Clutching at straws, much?

***Forgot to mention that it was absolutely brilliant to see Henry back at the Emirates, and I think him lifting the trophy, albeit for the NYRB, was like the perfect ending. Would have been GREAT if the rumours of him playing in an Arsenal jersey were true, but I guess we’ll have to settle for him finally lifting a trophy at the Emirates!

  • yemi

    @debs henry actually requested to play for arsenal in the 2nd round but the match officials refused.

    As dev said in his last post we still have not addressed our weaknesses of last season and that is really a shame

  • Domhuaille

    @ yemi:Why is it a shame? There are 4 weeks left before the transfer window closes and I’ll go out on a limb saying that we’ll see at least 2 new signings before the window closes.Why am I so sure? Basically because AW has long-ago proven to himself that Djourou and Squillaci clearly aren’t ready for prime time and it appears Cesc is pouting away in London, daring AW to trade him to Barca and Nasri sleepwalking through his contract, secure in the knowledge that he’ll get his salary regardless and then a big transfer next year.
    We have Afobe, Frimpong, Gervinho, Jenkinson, Ryo, Bartley, Lansbury and Mannone knocking on the door or already in the first team and will apparently add Mata, Campbell and Oxlade-Chamberlain before long. We might see Jagielka here by next week and maybe even Cahill or a foreign CB if Wenger does his usual rabbit out of a hat magical ricks.

  • yemi

    @domhuaille a shame in d sense that the preseason is over and whoever comes in will need time to gel with the rest of the team.

  • vj

    guys dont foget juan mata! i really think we are gonna sign him, imagine this team

    Szczsney

    sagna jagielka vermaelen gibbs

    song nasri wilshere

    mata rvp gervinho

    subs: fabianski koscielny jenkinson ramsey walcott arshavin chamakh

    thats not bad… with frimpong vela djourou also there as backups

  • John

    I really don’t get this ‘addressing last season’s weaknesses’ thing. I thought last season’s weakness was defending set pieces, which has to do with organisation of the whole team round the box. We were actually quite good at defending in open play, check the stats. Didn’t think the goals against this weekend came from set pieces but from personal mistakes by the 3rd, 4th and 5th choice central defenders. Yes, very poor and something that shouldn’t happen at Arsenal but a different problem alltogether. Another weakness, the ‘supporters’, has clearly not been addressed; booiing players. Very clever and a great motivation for players like Fabrigas and Nasri. The haters will no doubt have a field day, conveniently forgetting the fans are the 12th man of the team.

  • yemi

    @ John:
    ” I thought last season’s weakness was defending set pieces”

    You are correct in that wise but i doubt if it was lack of organisation, but lack of personnel. Playing against teams like stoke, birmingham nd the likes will always be a problem because we have no presence in defense with height. These are some of the weaknesses that need to be addressed

    We continue to see our defenders costing us so much points day in day out. from clichy to Djourou to squillaci to KOS to ebuoue. Everyone is bound to make mistakes, but when it becomes a habit then there is a problem.

    TV did not play much last season but from his debut season we know he is solid. Sagna is aslo one of our defenders who is not error prone.

  • John

    @yemi
    I’d like to think it’s organisation first and personnel second, I’m not convinced that buying a big central defender is the cure for all our ills. Vermaelen back should/could be a massive boost in the organisation of our defence. But hey, what do I know, the more I watch football the more I realise I know nothing.

  • Kieran

    @ yemi:
    Pre season isn’t over until 6th August when we play Benfica.