Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sluggish Arsenal pick up the pace to slot four home in Austria

SC Neusiedl 1919 0 - Arsenal 4

First half: Almunia, Nordtveit, Djourou (Vermaelen), Koscielny, Gibbs, Nasri, Frimpong Wilshere, Arshavin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Walcott
Second half: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny (Emmanuel-Thomas) , Clichy, Nasri (Wilshere), Frimpong, Nordtveit, Eboue, Chamakh, Vela

Arsenal finished their Austrian tour with a comfortable 4-0 victory against SC Neusiedl 1919.

The Gunners were sluggish out of the blocks. They sat too deep and the full backs didn't become involved in the game higher up the pitch, leading to little cutting edge in the forward play.

It was a woeful start and made Arsenal were made to look very average against a side who are part timers in the Austrian league.

Of course we don't know how hard Arsene Wenger and Pat Rice trained the players prior to the game and for that fact put too much weight on the performance of the players in this pre-season game. But I felt we were pegged back.

It wasn't as though Neusiedl were offering much going forward. Every opportunity they had prior to Arsenal's opener was on the break and snuffed out quickly by Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou who started the match in the heart of the defence.

Until Neusiedl had their first chance on goal did we wake up and put our shooting boots on. The Neusiedl opportunity game from a corner. Laurent Koscielny lost his man at the set play and the header was on target. It would have beaten Manuel Almunia in goal but for the fact that Samir Nasri was on the post and cleared the danger.

Twelve minutes later Arsenal had finally found their stride. The early Neusiedl pressure was broken down by quick insightful Arsenal play.

Samir Nasri - who has had an excellent pre-season and this game was no different - played a one-two with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

The Frenchman took the ball inside and crossed across goal. His ball from left to right was dummied by Jack Wilshere for Theo Walcott and the young Englishman buried the ball right footed inside the near post.

Arsenal's second goal came just two minutes later.

Good pressing by Kieran Gibbs on the left allowed the 20-year-old left back to exchange passes with Arshavin and the defender headed for the byline.

Gibbs pulled the ball back to find Emmanuel Thomas in the area. He took the ball on his left, pushed it inside and then slotted the ball home at the far post.

It was pretty comfortable after some early disappointment. Nasri and Wilshere combined well in the middle of the park alongside Emmanuel Frimpong. These three played well and their combination play was excellent.

New signing Koscielny was partnered by Johan Djourou at the back. They worked well together but had little to do. The only worry was when Djourou was withdraw after just 29 minutes. Lets hope it's nothing to serious.

Manuel Almunia started in goal and took the captain's armband. He had little to do.

The second half saw six changes. The tempo was quicker and allowed those in Austria who played in the World Cup their first outing.

We saw Sagna, Clichy, Eboue and Vela take their first run out in Arsenal colours this pre-season.

The defense was again solid.

Arsenal's third goal was made and scored by the busy Marouane Chamakh who opened his goal scoring account with the Gunners from the penalty spot.

Thomas Vermaelen pressing the ball inside the Neusiedl won it and passed it to Samir Nasri. The Frenchman danced his way forward and played it toward the Moroccan who took the ball inside the box and a covering defender caught our new signing who went down.

The resulting penalty was taken and Chamakh sent the keeper the wrong way to slot the ball home in the bottom right hand corner.

Carlos Vela looked bright and he added to the score line in the 65th minute. 

The move started on the right with Bacary Sagna moving the ball forwards to Emmanuel Eboue. The Ivorian in turn switched play inside to Havard Nordtveit who spent 25 mintues of the second half in a central midfield role.

Nordtveit switched play to Nasri outside the area and the Frenchman in turn brought in Vela with a first time flicked pass from the outside of his right boot.

Vela then lifted the ball above the on coming goalkeeper to score Arsenal's fourth and final goal of the evening.

However the drama hadn't ended. Two minutes after Vela's goal, Neusiedl had a penalty. It came after they were awarded a free kick on the left hand side.

The ball was whipped into the mix and Chamakh handled. The referee blew for a penalty much to the bemusement of the rest of the Arsenal players.

However Vito Mannone took care of matters. The Italian dived to his left and stopped the ball going into the net in a routine save.

Overall a good performance for fitness, rather than anything good to see on the eye. We all know that these games are more about fitness and match practice than the score line. But it was good to see the Arsenal supporters watching in Austria able to enjoy some goals.


Almunia: Good performance but had little which troubled him.

Nordtveit: Not as involved going forward as in previous games. Had a pretty quiet game but there were a couple of lapses of concentration early in the game Played the first 25 minutes of the second half in central midfield then moved to his more natural position in the heart of defence. Enjoy watching him play.

Koscielny: Played secondary of the central defenders. Swept up everything he needed to. Needs to make sure he picks his pass better going out of defence. Lost his man at an early corner but there were a couple of good clearances. Seems to read the game well. Had little to do.

Djourou: Didn't have much to do while he was on the pitch. Was brought off after 28-minutes. Have to hope it is nothing too serious.

Gibbs: Involved in the second goal but prior to the first goal was not involved enough for my liking at the attacking end of the field. Looks as though he will offer real competition for Clichy this season.

Nasri: Excellent 60 minutes and worked well with Jack Wilshere. He really is the oil which makes our engine run. Was busy as always and drifted all over the pitch. Looks as though he will be very important this season for us.

Frimpong: Did very well. First half he was pressing hard up the field to win the ball back. High tempo games will suit him. Hope he is allowed to stay with the squad for the season rather than go out on loan.

Wilshere: Combination play with Nasri was very good. Nice touches to take him away from players and the ball seemed to be glued to his boot. Think he'll provide us with some exciting moment this season if he can carry his pre-season form into the season proper.

Walcott: Not heavily involved in the game until he scored the first goal. Put his chance away well but maybe he could have had a couple more. Didn't see him run at the defence like we know he can. Drifted inside at times when we could have used the width.

Emmanuel-Thomas: Was used as the central player of our three attackers. Didn't always hold the position and moved wide to use the flanks. His body should help him shield the ball well but there were a couple of occasions where he might have done better to hold it up and then bring others into play.  Excellent feet for a big man and he used them well to score his goal.

Arshavin: His performance was probably the most disappointing. Didn't seem  to be able to get involved as much as we would have liked him to have been. Should have scored when put through by Nasri in the first half and couldn't keep his feet at times. Seemed to be the one losing possession for us and wasn't in great form. Lets hope he's saving himself.

Mannone: Good handling and distribution. Nice to see him save the penalty but apart from that had little to do.

Sagna: First run out in pre-season. Good solid performance and got forward, something we were missing in the first half.

Vermaelen: Had a couple of opportunities going forward. Captained the second half. Took charge in leading the defence in challenging for the ball.

Clichy: Came on and performed solidly. Not much to say about his performance really. Did all that he needed to do.

Eboue: Offered himself going forward in the wide right berth of the front three. Looks like he's bulked up in the summer. Or maybe as teh_gooner pointed out on twitter, it might be the new away shirt.

Chamakh: Taken down in the box and scores the resulting penalty. Good at chasing down the ball as the first line of the defence. Attacked the ball in the air with two memorable headers from corners. Who knows, we might be good at set pieces with him in our side this season.

Vela: Should have scored in the 60th minute after walking through the defence. Close control never an issue. But needs to make sure he puts a shot in. Nice lob to score his trademark goal.

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