Starting XI: Macey, Debuchy, Elneny, Holding; Nelson, Coquelin, Willock, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Walcott; Giroud
Subs: Cech, Osei-Tutu, Sheaf, DaSilva, McGuane, Nketiah, Akpom
Arsene Wenger predictably gave his Europa League/Carabao Cup team another run out, with a man for man different team to the one that beat Swansea last weekend, our midfield looking notably green and our back three especially makeshift.
Red Star began by cleverly breaking up our possession with injury stoppages and were happy to counter us quite effectively with a number of chances that a better team would have tucked away easily yet the first half ended goalless.
In the second half Jack Wilshire really stood out with his ability to turn a player, ride challenges and make mazy runs, but Red Star were desperate for their precious away point and stalled for time as much as possible, using all the tricks in the book to break up our flow, and the game meandered to a draw.
The first ten minutes started quite tamely, Red Star perhaps having the upper hand in terms of hustle and energy, but it ended with an excellent chance for Giroud after excellent work by Maitland-Niles set up the big sexy Frenchman just outside the ten yard box but his low first time shot was straight at their keeper.
With 25 minutes in the Red Star team were trying to break up our spells of possession by having nearly every single player of theirs throw a hissy fit on the floor any time a challenge went in, so the game was oddly disjointed and slow.
Then on the 33 minute the game lit up, with Willock making a driving run that resulted in slipping through Giroud but their keeper smothered his chance well. Red Star duly returned the favour a minute later when Srnic blasted a shot at Macey that he parried over.
Our third choice keeper then made an absolute worldy of a save moments later when a looping header again from Srnic forced him to make a backwards diving leap, palming the ball onto the crossbar and keeping us in the game.
We kept looking extremely vulnerable when they countered, and when a ball was played beyond a hapless Holding, Boakye really, really should’ve scored as he was one on one but he blasted way over the bar under basically no pressure at all. The half ended 0-0 but we really rode our luck.
Arsenal started the second half brighter with a few dangerous looking crosses being thrown in and a powerful run from Nelson that was expertly snuffed out in their box by a lovely precision tackle.
Wilshire looked lively and was involved in two vague penalty claims, one a weak challenge in the area that was he probably looking for, another when his tricky run resulted in the ball bouncing off their defenders hand in the area. Then yet another driving run of Jack’s into their area resulted in him deftly chipping their keeper only for a frankly astonishing lunging goal line clearance denying him a deserved goal.
On the 77th minute a lovely improvised juggling pass combo between Giroud, Elneny and Walcott almost put Theo through but he had to turn one eighty to get his finish away and couldn’t connect properly. Arsenal definitely looked the more lively at this point, but Red Star were always dangerous on the break and Boakye had some chances a better striker really would’ve done more damage with.
Even though we took the game to them with as much pace as our inexperienced sprightly midfield could manage, Red Star held on with grim resolution at the game finished a drab nil nil.