By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal: Ospina, Koscielny, Elneny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Lacazette, Giroud
Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Bielik, Bramall, Coquelin, Willock, Nelson, Ozil, Nketiah, Walcott
A first start for Koscielny and Ramsey in this match. Maitland-Niles playing in the left wingback position and The Ox at the right hand side. Elneny playing in the centre of the defence means Wenger is having a look at this for an optional position in case all our central defenders get injured, are suspended or whatever disaster could happen to them. Kos and Monreal the others in the 3 man defence. Giroud in the middle with Lacazette coming in from the left and Iwobi from the right.
Arsenal immediately with a first chance. Great dribbling from Lacazette going past 3 defenders but the keeper with a good low save. Arsenal continue the attack and a cross ends up in front of Ramsey who tries a volley but a defender blocks the effort. The Ox almost finding Giroud after a free kick from the left but Giroud can’t wrap his foot around the ball well enough to make a proper contact. Arsenal in control but no goals in the opening 15 minutes.
Western Sydney playing with all players behind the ball so a good exercise in what we get to see in the PL many times. A cross from The Ox finds Lacazette who tries to go round his man but the defender can block the ball that bounces around against the hand of a Sydney player but correct from the ref to give no penalty. Some unnecessary roughness from some Western Sydney players so far with some nasty kicks against the ankles from behind. Ospina dribbling a Western Sydney player after a back pass. The Australian team surely doesn’t seem to find this a real “friendly” match. Iwobi the next one to suffer from a too strong challenge. Giroud with a header after the free kick from Xhaka but straight at the keeper. Temper raising a bit when Xhaka uses some force. No score after 30 minutes.
Monreal with a good attack on the left flank after a 1-2 with Lacazette. He finds Giroud with a low cross and he smashes the ball in the top of the net. GOAL! 1-0 to The Arsenal after 33 minutes. Monreal then with a great ball over the Western Sydney defense finds Ramsy who simply lobs the ball over the keeper with his left foot. GOAL!! 2-0 to The Arsenal after 37 minutes. That is two assists for Monreal.
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Giroud with a shot on the turn after good work from Lacazette but the ball falls kindly for the keeper. Maitland-Niles playing on the wrong side is showing a few times when he tries to cross with his left foot. Arsenal win a corner after good work from Giroud. From the corner the ball comes to Iwobi who lays it back to Elneny who takes a shot from outside the penalty area that goes in. GOAL!!! 3-0 to the Arsenal after 44 minutes. It took a big deflection so certainly a lot of good fortune with this goal. But they all count.
Arsenal almost with another goal but Western Sydney can manage to block the effort from Giroud and then Monreal blasts the rebound over. 3-0 to The Arsenal at half time.
Martinez comes in goal for the second half. Elneny again with a shot from outside the penalty area after a corner but this time no luck as his effort comes back from the crossbar and Giroud heads the rebound over. Another corner for Arsenal gives us another chance to score but the Australian defenders can clear in the end. Western Sydney then have a chance but the shot also comes off the crossbar. Ramsey tries to play it back to Martinez who picks up the ball and an indirect free kick 6 meters out is the result. Western Sydney score in the rebound from the indirect free kick. 3-1 after 58 minutes. But what a stupid mistake from Martinez, he should have kicked the ball from Ramsey away as he had enough room to do this. Elneny then with a too casual pass that gives a chance for Western Sydney to counter but the attackers run in an offside position so no further consequences. 3-1 after 60 minutes.
Further Arsenal pressure but Western Sydney can clear the dangerous crosses from The Ox and Iwobi. Arsenal prepare a massive pitch invasion from substitutes after some 65 minutes. Martinez with a good save on a shot from a Sydney player.
Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Bielik, Bramall, Coquelin, Willock, Nelson, Ozil, Nketiah, Walcott all enter the field after some 66 minutes.
A cross from Neslon finds Nketiah who tries to lay it off for a teammate. Could have gone for the shot himself. Welbeck with a cross/shot but nothing in the end. Walcott beating a few man in the middle of the park but his pass can’t find Nketiah. Walcott trying to place a shot but a fine save from the keeper. Willock with a great run through the middel but being pulled down. Özil with a great free kick against the post and Bielik missed the rebound from 6 meters out. Another (double) foul brings another free kick for Arsenal but this time the wall in the way but he crossed it again and Per all on his own headed in the arms of the keeper. It was with the back of his head and he could have controlled it as he was completely on his own. Nketiah with some good foot work to Özil who gave it to Walcott but a great save from the keeper on the low shot. Nketiah with a shot after a pass from Özil but it crashes off the post…unlucky and then Willock with a shot that curls just wide of the post. Özil again with a great pass to Walcott but again the keeper with a great save and then Nketiah is stoped at the last touch.
Arsenal win 3-1 and it really should have been a much higher score.
But in the end we never played with a team that we would expect to start in the PL (unless something drastic happened with injuries) and we were very composed and strong with both teams. I surely look forward to see Özil linking up with Lacazette in the future. Amazing to think they didn’t play together for a second for now.