By Walter Broeckx
It seems like only a few weeks ago that I was writing the match report of Arsenal matches (Sorry Tony…) and here we are again.
First thing first the match between Stoke and Everton was a very boring 0-0 affaire and in the end Everton won the penalty shoot-out and so qualify for the final. But that’s not what you are here for. You want the Arsenal line up first and here we go for the first time of the new season (finally!):
Arsenal started with Martinez, Debuchy, Mertesacker,Gabriel, Monreal, Flamini, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Iwobi, Akpom.
So a very mixed line up one could say. A young (well relatively young) keeper in goal but with some experienced defenders in front of him. A midfield with lots of experience. And two young kids up front with Iwobi and Akpom.
So lots of familiar faces on the bench also where we had names like: Szczesny, Bellerin, Toral, Zelalem, Crowley, Willock, Cech, Gibbs, Chambers, Koscielny, Ozil, Walcott, Arteta, Cazorla, Giroud, Ramsey.
So no Cech and I think it will be for the next match that he makes his debut. My pre-match prediction is that Szczesny will play in the second half of this match. Off we go now! Let the season start.
A familiar face as the ref as it is cup final ref John Moss at the whistle. A not so familiar face was Arsenal in the new away shirt for the first time. A Signapore defender conceding a first corner for Arsenal and Oxlade-Chamberlain has a shot from just outside the penalty area but it goes wide. Arsène with a touch of the ball. Debuchy very eager to make an impact but twice called back for offside by the assistant. Arsenal most on the ball but not much penetration and just when writing this Akpom makes room for himself but his low effort is blocked by the keeper. Then again the keeper denies Arsenal with a great save after a shot from the Ox (I think – blurry stream sometimes) and then the rebound from Wilshere is stopped by a defender. 0-0 after 15 minutes.
A bit of ‘holderdebolder’ football for the moment with lots of lost ball from both sides. Akpom showing some good skills with the ball but not really creating any danger. Apart from a shot from distance from The Ox that goes well over the crossbar. So far Singapore hasn’t really come close to the Arsenal goal. Time for a little drink for players and referee after some 26 minutes.
Back underway and Arsenal defend a free kick, it is cleared and Arsenal can go quickly forward. The ball comes to Wilshere who tries to go around the last defender but he blocks the ball and it falls to Akpom who makes no mistake and burries the ball in the goal. GOAL!!!! 1-0 to The Arsenal after 30 minutes.
It is as if this goal has woken up Signapore and for the first time they try to go more towards the Arsenal goal. Gabriel takes a shot in his stomach and goes down a bit uncomfortable so play is stopped. But he can carry on. Akpom then is on a one on one with the keeper but the angle is too tight and the keeper can save at the expense of a corner. After 40 minutes Martinez grabs his first ball a long cross without any pressure on him. So yes he earned his sandwich there as they say in my country.
While the director wants to show those highly important images of players sitting on the bench Coquelin has committed a foul and the ref talks to him. Le Coq has no friends or knows no friendly matches I think. As does the bearded defender from Singapore who has gone about a few times before and he also is talked to by the ref after fouling Wilshere. After Singapore clear the line Jack is fouled again just outside the penalty area. But his effort is blocked by the wall. It’s half time and Arsenal lead 1-0 after having dominated but not created too much. Time for the half time show.
Time for half-time Bob to talk us through the first 45 minutes and tell you how you should have seen it: Well like I said before I thought I have seen a few things that was interesting but then again you cannot say too much about this as it is still early on but let me show you this incident where you can see that he should have done better and could have gone for the other side and then I pretend it has been like that for the whole 45 minutes and let me take another example and I think he should have gone for a shot there and not for the dribble but this is how it goes when you can sit on your comfortable sofa and judge things from afar and not being on the field at all. But well one has to earn his money to feed my children and if it takes for me to do a lot of blah blah blah I am very willing to do this of course.
So after that very interesting chit chat we continue to talk about the football itself.
Half time changes : Szczesny came on for Martinez and that was it at first sight. And second. A Singapore player went down with a back injury but I think he just wanted a massage from the female physio. Oh well it does seems to be serious as he goes down again and has to come off after he tried to continue. Meanwhile the Mexican wave goes through the stadium. Wilshere almost runs off with the ball but an ultimate tackle can stop him.
Iwobi on the end of a Wilshere pass but his wild shot goes over and wide. Coquelin commits a foul just outside the penalty area but the wall is standing firm. Wilshere on the other end with a good pass to Debuchy who gives it to Iwobi who again smashed it wildly over and wide. The Ox then with a great run but the keeper can take the steam out of his shot and a defender can kick it out for a corner just in front of the goal line.
Wilshere again feeding Debuchy who goes down under pressure from Camara and the ref gives a penalty for Arsenal. Wilshere to step up and….GOAL!!!!! FOR THE ARSENAL 2-0 after 60 minutes.
Again that goal brings Singapore to live again and Szczesny has to make a double save and does so comfortably.
Meanwhile the youngsters Crowley, Willockx and Zelalem prepare themselves on the side line. Wilshere, the Ox and Flamini going off. So lots of young and inexperienced kids on the field now. Zelalem forcing a corner and the keeper almost punches it in his own net…. A few corners in a row for Arsenal but they cannot score from them. And get another drink pause to get a bit of energy back.
Bellerin comes on for Debuchy and Toral also comes on for Iwobi I think. The youngsters combine in the penalty area with Crowley not being able to continue and then Toral goes away with the ball and is tripped by the keeper. Chub Akpom steps up and GOAL!!! coolly scores to make it 3-0 to the Arsenal after 75 minutes.
Crowley with a low shot that just goes wide. Crowley who was very lively and demanded the ball everywhere on the pitch. Arsenal now completely turning up the pressure with the youngster who want to prove a point. Willock wins the ball, gives it back to Bellerin, little drag back a cross and GOAL !!!! Akpom scores his hattrick and makes it 4-0.- after 79 minutes.
Crowley again with a lovely ball but Akpom couldn’t get passed the last defender and only won a corner. Lots of tired legs even for Singapore players who should be used to the conditions. John Moss still looking fit.
Crowley with a good eye for a lob when the keeper was a bit in front of his goal but it went wide. Could have gone for the pass also but well when you are young… Bellerin with a great ball to Akpom but this time the keeper has a good save. This was the last action of the match and ref Moss called it a day.
Arsenal wins 4-0 and will play the final next Saturday same time as today.
The defence was solid for 90 minutes the midfield worked hard and maybe most importantly: the youngster gave a good show of what they are capable of. And of course Akpom with his 3 goals will be the most talked about.