By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal starting XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal; Willock, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Nelson; Aubameyang.
On the beach: Martinez, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Thompson, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Torreira, Martinelli, Saka, Nketiah.
A big test for Chambers, Willock and Nelson against Barcelona this evening and it might tell us a bit more about their position in the team for next season. The match only started some 10 minutes after the indicated time.
Arsenal being most in the Barcelona half in the opening 5 minutes winning two corners but no real goal chances. Barcelona taking the match in control after some 10 minutes but they also dont createany clear openings.
Nelson a few times with some good twisting and turning creating a possible Arsenal counter but the attack breaks down for offside. Willock at the other end with a good block to deny a shot becoming dangerous. Jordi Alba gets booked for bringing down Mkhitaryan who looked to get away on the counter after a Barcelona corner. Xhaka giving the ball away in our own half buth Leno can stop the shot that follows. Nelson with a good run but his effort is blocked. Willock picks up the ball but Aubameyang just can’t make contact with the inviting cross. Maitland-Niles with a low cross but the keeper stops it before it can rach Aubameyang. Leno stops a shot from Jordi Alba and that was one of the rare shots in the opening half hour.
A ball bounces around a bit in the Arsenal penalty area but the ball goes out for a corner. Xhaka with a ball to Özil on the left flank who sends it through a small hole to Aubameyang who turns outside past his mand and then sends in a fearce shot that leaves the keeper stranded. GOAL! 0-1 after 37 minutes after a cracking finish from Aubameyang.
Arsenal working hard to put Barcelona under pressure so they cannot get in to their game too much. Griezmann alone in front of Leno but he was offside so it didn’t really matter he put the ball in the net. Semedo then has to stop a dangerous Arsenal attack when he lost the ball. Leno at the other end with a good intervention on a cross that looked a bit dangerous. Arsenal lead 0-1 at half time.
Kolasinac and Guendouzi came on at the start of the second half for Nelson and Monreal. Arsenal thinking to be clever and play the ball around in our own penalty area but when Chambers steps on the ball Barcelona can almost capitalise but Leno stops the shot. Willock needs some treatment after a tackle but he comes back on the field. Barcelona with more pressure in this second half and Arsenal not really getting out of their half. Nelson was excellent in the first half in turning defence in to attack. Arsenal overdoing it again in their own half but the shot from Barcelona is well off target. Kolasinac with an important defensive header on a dangerous cross leads to some danger in the Arsenal penalty area where some shots have to be blocked twice by Chambers. Leno has to tip a shot over his crossbar. And not a minute later Willock have to clear a ball in front of our own goal line when he almost scored an own goal on a cross. Still 0-1 after some 15 minutes in the second half.
Wgue goes in the book for a sliding tackle from behind agains Mkhitaryan. From the free kick Kolasinac has a shot that is deflected for a corner. And then Maitland-Niles has a brain freeze and plays the ball in his own net when Leno was coming to pick up an easy ball. What a terrible goal to concede. 1-1 after 69 minutes. There as no danger at all or any Barcelona player near the ball. And the number one rule they (should) teach at U6 : never give a backpass that could end up in the goal.
Saka, Ceballos and Martinelli enter the field for Arsenal at the restart in the place of Özil, Mkhitaryan and Willock. Lenglet gets a yellow card for a dangerous tackle against Ceballos who stays on the floor and needs treatment. Sokratis also managed to get booked in that incident. Suarez with a deflected shot but Leno with a great stop.
Arsenal can almost counter but Aubameyang tries to go past one defender too many and then loses the ball with Martinelli in a promisin position at the far side. Saka with a dangerous cross to Aubameyang but comes a fraction late to put it in. A great attack on the left flank between Kolasinac and Saka and the latter putting in a cross that is put just wide of the post by Martinelli. A defelected cross and this time Maitland-Niles puts it in safety.
With 5 minutes to go Torreira, Nketiah and Mustafi come on for Xhaka, Aubameyang and Sokratis. Nketiah penalised for a foul when he was away but the first foul was from the Barcelona player so a bit unlucky. But the ref also waved away correctely a clear dive from Suarez at the other end. An excellent ref so far this Spanish referee who did a good job. A very young side from Arsenal now and a long ball over the top finds Suarez who scores and makes it 2-1 in the last minute of the match. I think taking off Sokratis didn’t really help with this goal.
Chambers has a final attempt after a free kick but Barcelona can clear.
An unlucky defeat because ot the completely unnecessary own goal from Maitland-Niles that gave Barcelona a life line when they didn’t really look like scoring up to that moment.
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