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!