A day after an unlucky 1-0 defeat to Juventus courtesy of an offside goal the gunners graced the Emirates pitch once more to take on the current Spanish champions Real Madrid.
This time the first team contained alot more experience and was led by William Gallas who recently learnt that despite past mistakes he will indeed lead Arsenal forward into the upcoming exciting 2008/2009 campaign.
The teams lined up:
Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichy, Walcott, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, RVP, Adebayor
Dudek, Torres, Diarra, Garcia, Heinze, Salgado, Diarra, Guti, Baptista, Robinho, Raul
The first good chance fell to Theo Walcott after a brilliant pass and move game up the middle by Nasri and Adebayor, the final ball saw Theo in space on the right hand side of the box, the finish was from a tight angle and the keeper managed to get down to a decent effort from Walcott.
Some brilliant play from Nasri, Ade and Walcott gave Denilson a great shooting chance after he was teed up after a classic arsenal build up play. The shot was blocked but it was struck well and the whole move itself was a delight to watch.
Adebayor had a glorious chance to put Arsenal in the lead with a free header. Senderos had space to bundle into the last third and he passed the ball straight up to Nasri outside the area who played a one touch through ball for Van Persie to run onto down the left hand side of the box. Van Persie then whipped a great cross into Adebayor who had comprehensively beaten the defender for position but it looped over the goal and went wide. It was a great chance and one which we all hope he bangs away in the games that count.
Madrid then had one hell of a moment as centre back Garcia took the opening for a long range effort and thundered his effort just over the bar. It was an incredible effort which looked dangerous all the way, thankfully for Almunia it just didn’t have the required dip.
If you had to give this half to a player then it had to be Theo Walcott, he was a menace to the Madrid backline and he showed a level of technique and success rate in whatever he tried that we have not really seen before. He was brilliant and not just in the areas you expect the right midfielder to be in, he tracked back, cut inside and basically mixed in whereever he could.
He had a great chance to score the first goal after a great link up with RVP. He played a one two with Van Persie (who smartly beat his man before playing the return) and Theo completely outfoxed Diarra who was trying to cover him as he used his pace to fashion a shooting chance in the box despite his presence. The shot just went over the bar but if it went in it would have been the smartest finish of the tournament.
A Van Persie corner towards the end of the half led to another Adebayor headed chance which could have given Arsenal a well deserved lead. The corner was badly headed by the Madrid defender at the far side of the goal back into the fray in the middle. Jerzy Dudek had strayed from his line and Ade seeing this rose high and lobbed the ball over Dudek with the header. Adebayor was half celebrating as his header was brilliantly connected but Dudek pulled of a wonderful save to tip it back over the bar for another corner which came to nothing.
The half time whistle went and it was a fantastic half in which Arsenal had been the better team. Walcott and new boy Nasri had been brilliant, mesmerising at times as they relentlessly looked to confuse, evade and deceive the Madrid defence. It was a marvellous half from them and the rest of the team who were also playing to a high level. The only player who looked out of sorts in the Arsenal team was Diaby who unfortunately was not doing what he wanted to do and look like he would be a good replacement for Cesc when he does not play. There will be other chances for Diaby to try and stake his claim as second choice CMF but this one did him no favours.
Wenger made no changes at the half time although Madrid increased the strength of their side significantly by bringing on Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Robben and Sneijder.
The second half was not as entertaining in the first half although significantly better than the second half against Juventus.
The winning goal came early on in the 49th minute when Robin Van Persie was balatantly barged over by Salgado. There was an awful lot of arguing from the Real Madrid players considering (a) it was blatantly a penalty and (b) it was just a friendly, you would have thougt it was a Champions League knockout game but the appeals were dismissed and Ade stepped up to put a fine penalty into the right hand corner. Dudek guessed the right way but the shot was too accurate and there was nothing he could do.
Adebayor kissed the badge after his goal to show the Emirates that his love for the Arsenal is as strong as ever. There were some boo’s for him during the game and there has been mixed reaction throughout the Arsenal community but so long as he keeps scoring goals i imagine the animosity will not last long.
Moments after the restart Denilson struck a decent long range effort but it is confidently taken by the keeper. On the basis of this game it looks like we have a holding midfielder who likes to take a shot or two, not such a bad thing at all.
On 66 minutes Eboue came on for Walcott and Vela came on for Van Persie. Saviola came on for Madrid.
The best moment of the half was when Sagna charged up the wing past two players and layed it across to Adebayor who was about 35 yards+ out and with 3 players ahead of him and a man closely tracking behind them. Using all his power, strength and skill he burst through all of them, through the box including skinning two in a tremedous fashion. He was one on one with the keeper and about to score the goal of the tournament but it just went wide. It was a marvellous move and if it went in it would have been another top quality goal to add to Ade’s collection.
Madrid then fought back with a great passing move which created a shooting chance for Guti just outside the box with acres of time to think about it. The shot was rifled in at 100 mph and was blocked by Almunia who did not know much about it. The play didn’t end there though as the ball was recollected and played to Robben on the right who brilliantly deked past Clichy and bore down on the goal on the touchline. His killer pass was blocked before it could reach the dangerzone though and the play ended.
More changes for Arsenal as Wilshere, Bendtner and Ramsey all came on for Nasri, Adebayor and Diaby respectively.
Disaster struck for Real Madrid as top talent Sneijder pulled up with what looked like a cruciate ligament injury, the kind which keeps a player out for 4-6 months. It is a great loss to Madrid and the footballing world as he is a great player and hopefully he will make a speedy recovery.
Further marauding from Arsenal provided a gem of a moment for the new jawdropping talent Jack Wilshere. He collected the ball on the left on a good Arsenal breakaway with Torres on his case and Wilshere tapped the ball past him and proceeded to run around him using great speed and skill. He ran into the side of the box and played a cross into Bendtner who took it down in one touch and then shot from an angle for his second. The shot was blocked however and a corner was given.
The match came to a close and despite not retaining the crown they deservedly won a match against one of the best teams in the world and did it with some style. Walcott, Nasri and Wilshere all shone and the usual first teamers who have just been reintroduced to the side looked like it won’t take long for them to be firing on all cylinders.
What the Emirates cup has shown all the Arsenal fans is that there is as much talent here as at any other team in the world, they my not have the names or reputation but they play an impeccable game. This coming season is going to be an exciting one where all the players look to impose themselves on what is the most anticipated premier league season ever.
See you for the Amsterdam Tournament where we will get to see more of the new and exciting talents we have to offer, as well as some of the much loved old.
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