So yesterday, we finally got to see the boys back in Arsenal colours! Or well, seeing as there were hardly any streams available, only those in the stadium could see the boys in action. Of course, it being the day after, highlights are available. Arsenal.com have bitesize highlights available for free, with longer highlights available for members. Southampton FC do have an official youtube account, and the goals from yesterday are all up there. And I was at the St Mary’s yesterday, so I do have some pictures to share!
The matches yesterday- 45 minutes against Anderlecht, and 45 minutes against Southampton- were never about the result, although winning the Markus Liebherr bear-cup would of course, be a bonus. It was more important for the boys to get back into the swing of things; begin building match fitness in time for the premier league season next month. Having said that, we didn’t take an all-too-strong team to St Mary’s, with majority of first teamers staying away. I’m sure we’ll see them all, as pre-season progresses.
For the first match, we had Martinez in goal; Boateng, Miquel, Gibbs (c) and Jenkinson in defence; Yennaris, Eastmond, Lansbury and Eisfeld in midfield; with Sanchez Watt and Chamakh up front.
Looking over my tweets from yesterday, there weren’t too many chances yesterday, with most of the match being played on the halfway line. Both teams did have one or two chances each, but none too memorable. I really thought there wouldn’t be any goals, but a lovely bit of play between the “experienced” guys on the pitch saw us score the only goal of the 45 minutes. Gibbs had the ball in midfield, passed it out wide to Jenkinson on the right. He sprinted forward with the ball, headed towards the byline. I thought for a second that he’d lost the chance to send in a good cross, but he did just that, picking out Lansbury in the box, who finished delightfully. Really good goal to what wasn’t really a good game. We did see flashes from Chamakh, and we were under pressure from Anderlecht for a bit of a sustained period before the goal, but our defence held out well.
That’s pretty much the first half in a nutshell. For a full report, check dot.com.
On to the main event of the day! No, not the torch doing a lap of the stadium- that was fun, though!- but Saints v Arsenal. Old premier league boys v new premier league boys for 45 minutes. There was definitely a higher tempo to this game, as well as a better atmosphere. The 11 for this match were Mannone; Meade, Santos, Bartley, Djourou (c); Eastmond, Ebecilio, Lansbury, Coquelin; Aneke, Gervinho.
Chances came for both teams, but Saints had the better of them earlier on. They put lots of pressure on us early on, and it was no surprise when their goal eventually came, 31 minutes into the game, with new signing Jay Rodriquez heading in to the back of the net. But we responded well, equalising less than 5 minutes later. And what a lovely solo goal by Gervinho! Not going to describe it, just watch it here. Hoping for more of the same this season, Gervinho!
Good defending from us, as well as Saints, saw the remaining 10 or so minutes go by without any goals. And as per the rules of the competition, a penalty shoot-out had to decide the tie. It was a bit pointless, really, because the way it stood, regardless of the results of the penalty shoot-out, the trophy was ours. Saints had lost their earlier match against Anderlecht, meaning they had 0 points, Anderlecht having 3. We got 3 points for beating Anderlecht, but we also got one point for the draw against Southampton. So before the penalties we had 4 points, Saints with only one, and with the winner of the shoot-out only getting 2 points, it really wasn’t going to make any difference to the overall winners. Not a lot of people realised it at the time anyways, so I guess the penalty shoot-out wasn’t so much of a waste. Saints started the shoot-out and scored. In fact they scored all 5 of theirs. We scored with our first 4, but unfortunately Kyle Ebecilio missed the decisive 5th, his effort coming off the post! Unlucky, but as I said, irrelevant, as we already had the trophy in the bag!
Really good to see Santos back! He was everywhere! Djourou and Bartley did well in defence, Bartley making a number of goal-saving tackles. Gervinho was good, and as I said before, I hope he can show us more of the same- actually, better!- during the course of the season. It was also the first time for me seeing some of the youngsters, with Angha and Olsson coming on as subs. It’s still early days, so it’ll be interesting to see which of these lads break into the first team this season. There’s always that one, isn’t there?!
So in summary, good start to season, even though in effect, just a Mickey Mouse trophy. Here’s hoping we get to celebrate proper trophies this season!
Oh, I did promise pictures! Here they are:
Apologies for the picture-spam and the not-too-good quality! Wish I got shots of the goals, or the players afterwards, but it is what it is!
4 more pre-season matches, all on ESPN. I have no ESPN, boo, but I trust I’ll be kept in the loop one way or the other! Let’s see how ready the boys are for the season! Come on Arsenal!!!