After a 2-1 victory against Barnet the gunners’ pre season shenanigans continued against Hungarian side Szombathelyi Haladas in which Arsenal’s less experienced players got a chance to show their worth.
The Line up: Almunia, Sagna, G Hoyte, J Hoyte, Clichy (c), Walcott, Denilson, Ramsay, Wilshere, Vela, Bendtner.
They lined up against the 4-3-3 formation of the Hungarians with forward Niklas Bendtner with something to prove after his much criticised performance in the previous game.
The first half was very entertaining and both sides started positively. The first chance came on 6 minutes when Denilson was very unlucky not to put his name on the scoresheet. Niklas Bendtner’s cross from the left was chested down by Carlos Vela in the box and he flicked it into the path of Denilson who was very unlucky to see his volley crash of the underside of the bar.
Three minutes later Walcott had a chance to put Arsenal in the lead. After a flick through from Vela, Walcott tapped the ball past the defender and ran around him to fashion a one on one chance with the keeper. His angle to finish was apparent but he could not get much conviction onto the finish and the keepers legs foiled his plans.
Theo was undettered though and a minute later he charged down the right past the left back but his cross was not able to create a goalscoring chance.
A goal came sure enough on 24 minutes and it was a quality goal, the kind of which Arsenal love to score, however it was scored by Haladas rather than the gunners as Kenesai put the Hungarians a goal to the good. A good passing move down the right resulted in an accurate crass to Kensai out side the box who chested it past the Hoyte brothers (who did themselves no favours here) and chipped it brilliantly over Almunia.
Gavin Hoyte managed to hook the ball back at the front of the goal however the linesman deemed it to cross the line and it was the correct decision as the brilliant finish got the reward it deserved. It was a quality goal in an intriguing first half.
Gavin Hoyte had a chance to have his say just a few minutes later when a Whilshere corner bobbled through the box and presented him with a half volley close to the goal but in typical centre back style it ballooned over the crossbar.
An awesome move by Denilson, Bendtner and Clichy saw Clichy put through the left hand side of the box courtesy of a Bendtner through ball but the difficult finish was slotted in to the side netting. Nevertheless is was i high octane moved and proved the energy of this Arsenal team.
A corner from Denilson on 34 minutes caused the Haladas keeper all sorts of problems and he fluffed it into the path of Vela who had a tap in he was sharp enough but he just didn’t make it and the danger was cleared.
Three minutes later Haladas then replied with a break down the wing of their own and a wicked low cross from the left could so easily have led to the second goal but the incoming strikers’ finish was slightly mistimed and Gavin Hoyte found the ball at his feet and cleared it to the relief of the Arsenal bench.
Two minutes after that a Denilson burst down the middle saw the roaming Bendtner (who was playing well) receive the ball on the right and he crossed the ball at mid height for Wilshere who took the volley opportunity with open arms. His technique looked very good but unfortunately the effort was over. Nevertheless it was a good move.
An Arsenal goal looked inevitable and one came on 42 minutes when Theo Walcott finished emphatically froma quality Bendtner assist. Clichy’s cross was controlled in the air by Bendtner in the middle about 30 yards out and when the ball touched the ground he slotted a fine through ball down the right hand side of the box and Walcott had no trouble with the angled finish. The ball went off the far post and into the opposite side of the net, about as perfect an angled finish as you could get.
The half time whistle blew soon after and all in all it was a very entertaining half. Arsenal had the best of play as expected but Haladas looked dangerous when attacking and scored a very very good goal. Niklas Bendtner stepped up his game and put in an impressive performance in contrast to his Barnet outing. The Hoyte brothers looked a little out of sorts at some points but worked hard and held their lines well.
The second half was unfortunately a bit of a damp affair with not even half the action of the first half. Wenger rung in the changes before the half started with Vela, Almunia, Vela and G Hoyte coming off for Lansbury, Randall, Mannone and Traore coming on.
Randall had a good shot flashed over in the 47th minute after a slow but purposeful Arsenal build up. The ball was passed around nicely but was intercepted ouside the box by a defender who instantly placed a woeful pass into the feet of Randall who was outside the middle of the box but with clear space to shoot. The said shot was over but it was a good effort, a curling shot rather than a balloon.
A moment of brilliance from Wilshere was seen on 54 minutes when he produced a great bit of skill. He collected the ball near the box and dinked the ball over the defender. He then feigned to volley it towards goal but instead dinked it brilliantly across towards Gavin Hoyte who unfortunately could not connect with it. It was a wonderful bergkampesque manouever and hopefully we will see more of that before the pre season ends.
Wilshere then had a good dipping shot tipped wide by the keeper and Randall had another long range effort after some horrible possession play from the Haladas midfield. This time though, his shot was a balloon.
Two more substitutes were sent forth by Wenger as Jay Simpson and Francis Coquelin came on for Bendtner and Wilshere. Both players taken off had performed really well this game and deserved their applause. Arsenal then switched to a one up front strategy with Simpson leading the lines and Coqualin to boss the midfield with Denilson.
The best thing about the second half was the performance of Coquelin, it was very very encouraging. He was brilliant at closing down the ball, making passed and tricking his way out of trouble. Whilst Wilshere was the revelation of the first match, Coquelin was definately the revelation of this one.
Good work from Coquelin and Simpson gave Arsenal a free kick in a very dangerous position. As captain Gael Clichy decided he should do the honours and whipped in a wide but dangerous looking free kick. It had the whip, it had the power, it just lacked the accuracy.
On 81 minutes whilst tracking down a ball he was easily going to win Clichy took an unlucky slip resulting in the Haladas attacker bearing down towards goal from the touchline. It looked like a really dangerous position, the kind where you expect a goal to be scored but Sagna tracked back and brilliantly intercepted the killer pass across goal which would have been slotted home if it got through.
The disappointing second half came to a close and both teams had to settle for the draw. Overall, mainly due to the very pleasing first half it was a good pre season game and the was some noticable moments and performances, namely Coquelins and also the fightback from Bendtner to show why Wenger has such faith in him.
What did you think of the game? Who impressed you the most?
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