Arsenal warmed up for their Premier League opener against Liverpool next Sunday with a 3-2 win over Man City in Gothenburg this evening.
Arsene Wenger made changes from the team that beat Viking FK on Friday, choosing a front three of Alex Iwobi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex is Sanchez. Rob Holding was chosen at centre-half alongside Gabriel, while Aaron Ramsey made his first appearance of pre-season playing in midfield ahead of Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin.
The Welshman came close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute, heading just over after a great run found by Alexis’ perfectly weighted cross. Hector Bellerin almost found his way through, stopped by a tackle on the edge of the box, and a great ball from Xhaka presented Olxade-Chamberlain with a chance that he chipped just wide.
At the other end Sergio Aguero caused Holding and Gabriel some problems but his deflected shot was easily claimed by Cech. Coquelin squandered a great chance to put Arsenal ahead, shooting straight at the defender with goalkeeper Willy Cabellero stranded after good pressure from the Gunners had forced a City mistake at the back.
Ramsey forced the keeper into a decent save with a left-footed effort, but despite the Arsenal dominance we fell behind on the half hour mark. Gabriel’s defending out wide left a lot to be desired, and Raheem Sterling’s cross found Aguero who finished on the volley with just Cech to beat.
It was a lesson in taking your chances and an illustration as to why a striker arrival is so important for the Gunners this summer. City took the lead into the half-time break.
At half-time Arsene Wenger brought on Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny and Theo Walcott for Holding, Xhaka and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Despite the manager saying Walcott wasn’t good enough defensively to play him on the right, he played him on the right.
And it worked as it was Walcott’s ball from the wide position that fashioned a chance for Alex Iwobi. The 19 year old’s stinging effort from just outside the box was too strong for Joe Hart’s chocolate wrists, and it was just the start to the half Arsenal needed. 1-1.
Alexis almost put us ahead a few moments later, his free kick came crashing back off the bar with Hart beaten. Santi Cazorla came on to replace Aaron Ramsey, and only Hart’s fingertips stopped Walcott’s fizzing effort which he tipped just around the far post.
At the other end Cech made a strong save from a Jesus Navas shot from inside the box, before there was another Arsenal change as Joel Campbell came on for goalscorer Iwobi.
Arsenal went ahead in the 73rd minute through Walcott. He played a fantastic give and go with Alexis whose ball split the defence wide open, and with just the keeper to beat the England man’s dinked finish was really lovely. 2-1.
Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs came on for Bellerin and Monreal, and moments later Chuba Akpom replaced Alexis. City should have been level but for a terrible miss by Yaya Toure, and they made a load of subs too in this warm-up game.
There was more poor goalkeeping from Hart after he failed to hold onto the ball after a defensive error, and Akpom was there for another pre-season goal and to make it 3-1.
Moments later it was 3-2 though, City exposed Arsenal defensively again, Gabriel found wanting once more in the centre, and Ieanacho nodded home from close range to set up a grandstand finish … *cough* …
Cech had to be alert to make a good save to prevent an equaliser from a Toure shot, and Navas fired over in injury time.
Late on there was more worry from an injury point of view. Having lost Per Mertesacker in the game against Lens, there was real concern when Gabriel had to be stretchered off after catching his ankle in the turf.
We don’t know yet how serious it is but it looked very bad and it took medical some minutes to take him off the pitch, suggesting the injury was was a significant one.
It will have to accelerate transfer market activity, and now we turn to next Sunday, and the Mugsmashers.