By Walter Broeckx
Well we started with a very mixed team in the first half and come to think of it also in the second half.
At the start we could see Szczesny, Jenkinson, Hayden, Ajayi, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Toral, Zelalem, Willock, Sanogo.
A first big chance came when Sanogo was released on the right hand side but he couldn’t get past the excellent Borehamd Wood keeper who blocked his effort from close range. An excellent ball from Zelalem almost got Monreal through but he couldn’t use the ball well enough and the ball stuck between his feet and the grass. With the heat it seemed that the grass was very dry and so he ball didn’t really got the needed speed for the Arsenal passing game.
Arsenal had all the possession in the game but the pace was too slow to really trouble the home team. A few attempts from distance was all what really was to be seen. But just after the half hour Sanogo got some space on the left and laid it off to Toral whose effort shaved the post.
And just before half time Sanogo got another chance when a long ball was prolonged in his path by a defender but again the keeper stopped the effort. It was the end of a first half that was played at a too low speed. When we raised the tempo we looked dangerous but the heat was not really inviting players to really have a go.
In the second half we started with Martinez, Gibbs, Bellerin, Miquel, Pleguezuelo, Afobe, Akpom, Olsson, Flamini, Diaby.
Certainly in the back 4 a lot of Spanish speaking players and if Wenger would have started with Gibbs in the first half we could have played an all Spanish back 4 with a Spanish speaking goalkeeper behind them with the Argentine Martinez.
In the past I have been very impressed with Bellerin on the right flank. And I think a few are now sharing this opinion. I have said before that if he can defend at the required level and keep his attacking game going he will be one hell of a right back. Our right flank looked rather impressive in the second half I found and it was almost all because of Bellerin.
A first run forward resulted in a Boreham Wood defender having to clear in front of the line after he chipped the ball to Olsson over a defender. A few minutes later another Bellerin attacking run and this the attack ended with a fierce shot from Diaby that the keeper had to tip over.
A bit later an attack on the left hand side and again a good shot from Akpom but again the keeper could tip the ball over. And another cross from Bellerin was well gathered by the Boreham Wood keeper. But you could feel a goal was coming.
It came a few minutes later when Rosicky made a spin and with the outside of the right boot released Olsson who poked it over the goalkeeper. A good movement from Rosicky and good finish from Olsson.
Akpom wanted to show something and he did again after a nice personal attempt but again the keeper with a strong fist to turn it in to a corner. Gibbs added a low attempt straight at the keeper.
But then Akpom made the move of the day. With two Boreham Wood defenders all over him he passed them both with a nice movement. And then his cross looked dangerous but Afobe couldn’t really challenge for the ball as he was pushed over completely on the goal line. A penalty was the result and Afobe put himself behind the ball and coolly converted the spot kick with the keeper going the wrong way. 0-2 and this was the final score.
Things to remember for me was Akpom with a strong finish of the match and Bellerin who made the right flank his own in the second half.
The young Spanish defence looked well enough against such an opponent and I like to see more of them in the league cup or so.
Zelalem in the first half showed that he really has some superb vision. And our first team players will get better when the rest of the regular first team players are back from their holidays.
The season has finally started. Up to New York next to have a meeting with Mr. Thierry Henry. Looking forward to that already.