Miseries compound for Arsenal fans as Arsenal fell 2 – 1 to Benfica in their last pre-season match before the start of the Barclays Premier League.
Arsenal looked potent and lively on attack creating many chances, although again it was our lack of defensive prowess after major player changes at half-time that again came back to bite us, as the guests also had a host of chances to score.
In the 12th minute Gervinho looked venomous on attack receiving a ball just inside the box and turning his defender inside-out before shooting into the side-netting.
Arsenal continued their dominance in the first-half when in the 31st minute Alex Song played a great through ball to Van Persie, only for the Dutchman to chip over the keeper and just wide of the goal.
The breakthrough finally came in the 33rd minute after great work from Kieran Gibbs, who received a great ball down the left-hand side on the overlap and put a low cross in for Van Persie to effectively tap-in towards the gaping net. Both Gervinho and Van Persie look in great form.
Although to further add to the injury plague, it now seems Van Persie is nursing an ankle injury after a rash challenge from Benfica player Ezequiel Garay, prompting fierce words between the two followed by the Dutchman reacting to Enzo Perez who layed into Van Persie at the half-time break.
Half-time brought almost wholesale changes to the Arsenal team while Benfica brought on their big names and to put it bluntly it definitely showed.
4 minutes into the second half Nolito received a ball at the front of the 18-yard box who in turn found Aimar at the edge of the 6-yard box unmarked. Needless to say he finished with Vermaelen failing to mark goal-side.
Arsenal, without their experienced line-up, were rattled as we so often get and Benfica looked to push on to seal the victory with Luisao shortly afterward coming close after Jenkinson failed to push-up leaving the Brazilian, to his surprise, onside.
Benfica’s second goal came as a result of great skill from Nolita who received the ball at the top-left hand corner of the 18-yard box, skipped inside Squillaci and fired low and hard the near post to beat the scrambling Fabianski.
They asserted their dominance of the second half with a host of other chances to put the game to bed, perhaps showing a lack of depth in the Arsenal squad. If key players are to be missing in the squad this season, things look dire for Arsenal fans.
The game itself changed immensely after the break. With key players missing in the line-up it showed and looking forward to the first game with Newcastle it seems a large amount of injuries may impact team selection with Van Persie (ankle problem), Gibbs (muscular injury), and Vermaelen (back injury) all picking up knocks from the game along with other players such as Walcott who may be in doubt. Things are looking quite tense for the future already as the injury list grows.
Full match highlights: