Lazetty gets us sweaty
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 6-5 on pens)
Unai Emery’s Arsenal continued their pre-season preparation with a hard fought 1-1 draw and subsequent win on penalties in Dublin against Chelsea. It was a game really of two halves and a game in which Chelsea squandered countless chances in the first 45 minutes to really put the result beyond doubt. The fact we headed into the break only 1-0 down was largely thanks to Petr Cech saving a penalty (wow), poor finishing from Chelsea from countless chances and last ditch defending from an Arsenal back line really rolling back the months to the Arsene Wenger era. The only goal, a free header coming from a corner. The new ‘pressing game’ was largely absent, and although Aaron Ramsey’s late withdrawal may have contributed to the first half display, the sight of Chelsea forwards running unhindered towards our panicked back-line and the ease in which Chelsea broke out from our feeble press set alarm bells ringing. You do have to take into consideration this was still a friendly, but with only one more pre-season match to go, the overriding feeling on that first half was a large gulp followed by numerous deep breaths. Much work still to be done.... especially in the crossing department; Bellerin guilty again.
Better news in the second half saw more possession from Arsenal without really going anywhere with it (see last season and many before that), and more of a unified press. It does appear Unai Emery has an ability, unlike his predecessor, to genuinely change mindsets and performances during the half-time interval, and that, coupled with his ability to get the team to change formation, gives us genuine ‘in game management’ in the coming season, which is a real positive.
So on sixty minutes the changes were made and with it quite a few good cameos; Chambers giving us more structure on the right replacing Bellerin, Nelson looking dangerous replacing Mkhitaryan and Lacazette (not Lazetty as the game announcer introduced him as, got to love the Irish) replacing Aubameyang making more runs off the ball and having three genuine attempts on goal, which is three more than Pierre treated us to. (I’m willing to put that down to an off day and expect him to start the season up front). The game continued to huff and puff with long passing movements followed by poor last touches, Ozil trying all kinds of flicks and Nelson running stuff out of play. However, you only need one to go right and so it came, Ozil finding Nelson who drove across the box to Lazetty (I’m keeping it now), who manoeuvred his body to make the right contact, sending the ball over the line for a deserved equaliser in the last minute of injury time.
So that was that!
Well no, because we were playing in that most prestigious of competitions (and remember guys it’s super competitive!). The International Champions Cup, or The WTF Cup as it’s more commonly known; and that requires penalties to find a winner. Quick round up - everyone scored except Loftus-Cheek, fresh from England World Cup duty - poor lad, and the guys celebrated like it was 1999, slightly embarrassing. Though a win is a win and if it breeds confidence then who am I to complain? Up next Lazio on Saturday with game time for new boy Torreria and possibly Nacho.
Cech - Two Penalty saves and good handling, kept us in it when we needed him.
MOM - 8/10
Bellerin - Got roasted in the first half and still can’t cross a ball.
Mustafi - Did a lot of shouting and cleared with a couple good hoofs.
Greek Bloke - Looks as fast as me and as panicky as Senderos at times... Yikes
Kolasinac - First touch takes him inside a lot, but did OK before deciding his was injured.
Smith Rowe - Difficult for the lad as a late replacement for Ramsey, and defending against giants from corners was a ‘no no’, grew into the game though and was very neat.
Elneny - Comfortable and safe, maybe too comfortable and safe.
Guendouzi - Great hair and enthusiasm, can’t see him starting in PL but like his style.
Ozil - Took a while to get going but the one real bit of class in this side, gave it the full 90.
Mkhitaryan - The Meerkat showed some pacy bursts but end product off radar.
Aubameyang - An off day for the Gabon International, poor movement and missed his one real chance (a sitter).
Subs - Improved us which either says a lot or not depending on how you float your boat!.