Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to get his first goal for Arsenal in their opening match of pre-season against Sydney FC.
Matchday: Team News – Player Ratings – Match Highlights
Match: Sydney FC v Arsenal
Stadium: Anz Stadium
Kick-Off (GMT): Thu 13 July 11:00
The Gunners started with a high tempo and got their reward early on. A few chances were scuppered before the fourth-minute breakthrough. A lofted Mesut Özil corner rebounded to Per Mertesacker who managed to hook it over his head and into the goals.
Arsenal kept up their strong tempo and created some decent opportunities. Welbeck skied one, Cohen Bramall slid an excellent cross with no takers before Walcott hit a stinging shot straight at the goalkeeper.
At the other end, Sydney fashioned just one clear opportunity but couldn’t convert from a narrow-angle.
Half-time came and went and the team on home soil started the second 45 better. Sydney took the game to the Gunners early on, forcing a good save from substitute Emi Martinez in goals. Arsenal hit back at the other end and created a couple of chances – one a golden opportunity for Theo Walcott which led to an Arsenal penalty.
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Replays showed that the referee was incorrect to award a spot kick for a deliberate handball but Danny Welbeck missed from 12 yards.
Just before the 70th minute, Arsene Wenger brought a whole new team on. Ten outfield substitutions for the Gunners to create a team which featured new man Alexandre Lacazette up front.
It was a bit of a mixed bag after that as the new outfield team got to work. A few impressed, particularly Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi going forward and it was the latter who helped write the headlines. Iwobi drove down the Arsenal right with ten minutes left on the clock and laid the ball on a plate for Alexandre Lacazette to get his first Arsenal goal.
The Gunners had a few good moments in the last 20 minutes with Eddie Nketiah hitting the post from a corner. But it remained 2-0 as Arsenal got their pre-season out to a solid start.
Here’s how we rate the Arsenal players:
GK) Petr Cech – 5
He had a pretty quiet evening in Sydney. Petr Cech did everything which was asked of him but, in all honesty, it wasn’t very much.
Sub: Emi Martinez (45′) – 8
He did more in five minutes than Cech did in 45. Emi Martinez was forced into an excellent save early on and made another 20 minutes later. The Argentinean made another excellent stop in the closing stages of the match.
RWB) Reiss Nelson – 9
Is this guy really 17 years old? What an accomplished performance from the youngster. Reiss Nelson was always available on the right and showed some excellent touches.
Sub: Eddie Nketiah (69′) – 6
He did pretty well. Eddie Nketiah got into a couple of good positions and even hit the post from a corner.
RCB) Krystian Bielik – 7
Pretty quiet evening for Krystian Bielik in New South Wales. He was solid on the ball and very little got past him but there wasn’t a great deal of threat from Sydney FC.
Sub: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (69′) – N/A
A quiet cameo.
CB) Per Mertesacker – 6
Per Mertesacker picked up where he left off. The German followed up his FA Cup heroics with a fourth-minute goal in this, the first match of pre-season. He played well at the heart of Arsenal’s back three. He shepherded a young and inexperienced defence well.
Sub: Mohamed Elneny (69′) – 5
He played at centre-back but Mohamed Elneny did well in those 20 minutes.
LCB) Sead Kolasinac – 8
What an impressive debut for Sead Kolasinac. He started more centrally than we expect him to play during the season but he did well. The Bosnian’s driving presence was easy to see and he made some very intelligent passes while in possession.
Sub: Nacho Monreal (69′) – 6
Quietly solid. Monreal is still Monreal.
LWB) Cohen Bramall – 8
Another impressive performer. Cohen Bramall looked very much a part of the Arsenal first-team during his debut match. The former Hednesford Town man drove forward well and showed tremendous physical ability.
Sub: Donyell Malen (69′) – 6
He did well down the Arsenal left. Donyell Malen looked sharp in possession.
CM) Francis Coquelin – 6
A bit of a mixed bag from Francis Coquelin. The Frenchman was solid in the tackle but had a few wayward passes.
Sub: Granit Xhaka (69′) – N/A
A couple of excellent passes from the Swiss midfielder during his cameo. A good, if slightly quiet performance from Granit Xhaka.
CM) Joe Willock – 8
An outstanding midfield performance from Joe Willock. His brother may have left the club in the last couple of weeks but it seems that the Gunners still have one prospect from the Willock family.
Sub: Olivier Giroud (69′) – N/A
He had a quiet cameo. Olivier Giroud barely touched the ball.
RAM) Mesut Ozil – 8
A very good performance from Mesut Özil. The German looks so impressive with pacy, high-tempo players around him and that’s exactly what he had.
Sub: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (69′) – 7
A lively cameo from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He was at the centre of everything in those final 20 minutes and can be pleased with his outing.
LAM) Theo Walcott – 4
Not the best performance from Theo Walcott. The Englishman couldn’t find space for large portions of the match and missed a number of excellent chances once he did in the second half.
Sub: Alex Iwobi (69′) – 7
Alex Iwobi did well in his brief cameo. The Nigerian international played centrally and glided across the pitch as he laid one on a platter for Alexandre Lacazette.
ST) Danny Welbeck – 5
He led the line reasonably well. Danny Welbeck was sharp in possession and made some decent runs forward but couldn’t take any of his chances, even from the penalty spot in the second half.
Sub: Alexandre Lacazette (69′) – 6
He only had 20 minutes but there was such a willingness for him to get his first goal. Alexandre Lacazette didn’t have to wait long to do just that as he tapped one in after an excellent run from Alex Iwobi.