The boys are back in town! The boys are back in the town!

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:

The torch lighting another torch, or something like that...

 

Anderlecht players warming up for the match

 

 

Players warming up

 

Kick-off v Anderlecht

 

Warming up for the second match

 

Neil Banfield offering last-minute defensive tips to Bartley

 

More warming up!

 

 

 

 

Arsenal and Saints walking on to the pitch for the second match

 

 

 

Djourou!

 

 

 

Full-time; penalty time!

 

Team talks before penalties

 

Santos with Arsenal's first penalty

 

Mannone, hoping he can save at least one penalty

 

'Keeper change over

 

Good penalty!

 

Trophy time!

 

 

 

Champagne!

 

Almost-invisible bear-cup!

 

Aaand, all over!

 

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!!!

  • SpeedDemon

    Awesome blog Debs – so exciting to have the boys back!!

    Gervinho is going to be class this season!

  • German

    Exciting times to have the team back in training.
    Thew new season is nearly here.

    Thank you for the great blog, very detailed!

  • Aruni

    AFC is very well-runned, the envy of other clubs, a financial entity, youth buyer, a feeder club and anti-ambitious. Managed by money loving mavericks hell-bend on doing things their way. RVP is coming to the end of his career old age lower wages and away from the lime light awaits. RVP has yet to win a major trophy with the world at his mercy why stay with a club that is not ambitious and with a manger who insists he will never change the way he operates even if his star players keep on leaving whilst management revel in opulence. Usmanov wants dividends his dividends earned from the pitch. When the talisman says what everyone knows then something is wrong. AFC is not after football success or to attract good players but the senseless reply by Hill sums up the vision of the Club. Wenger is employed to bring success to the Board and himself. The board uses limited and constrained resources to justify their bad choices and retain wenger their cash cow who encourages the exodus of the good. Kolo left, Ade left, Cesc left for success, Clichy left for success and Nasri’s words are back to haunt AFC. Management state the club is progress orientated so why don’t they sack Wenger along with his cronies why waste 8yrs and why bring players that are not suitable for Sunday league tournament. The truth can only be supressed for so long before it comes out. The truth is the season will be awash, a painful period, a repeat of last season. If RVP wrote a letter stating how poor and visionless the club then this is the tip of the ice berg. If RVP states AFC is poor then AFC is poor but to what extent?

  • paul

    1) Arsenal are a selling club. It’s a feeder club to billionaires because of player power. So if you want to blame someone blame players. Not arsenal. It’s not that they want to sell someone. But if someone don’t want to stay then what can they do?

    2) Linking above point to walcott’s departure is ludicrous. RVP and cesc were the world class player which can never be replaced. Others were made to look incredible due to arsenal system. It’s like saying look at denilson he used arsenal as a stepping stone (although he fell on his face after that). Same goes with bendtner and others.

    3) Youngsters will follow suit if arsenal don’t adequately replace RVP and Theo and don’t up the wage structure. But cesc cunt has really shown the way…if you want a move just fake an injury, contracts are just piece of papers, having 3 years left on your contract means nothing really. Then you can give quotes that you really cried and all that.

  • himmat

    As a Manutd fan, I genuinely sympathise with the Arsenal supporters that they are now regarded as a developing and selling club. In Arsene Wenger they have the second best manager in the Premier League, who has an enviable reputation for finding youngsters and turning them into stars. However, if Arsenal are to aspire to top four status, the board, NOT Arsene, should retain their stars and go on to win trophies. I feel that this situation is not of Arsene’s choosing!

  • http://princcehood.blogspot.com yemi

    “However, if Arsenal are to aspire to top four status,”
    Like seriously ? aspire ti a top 4 finish? i hope it’s not arsenal in the Ghanaian league u are referring to?

    Cos arsenal in not aspiring to a top four finish. we’ve been dear for over a dozen years consecuively