Monday, 22 July 2013

Arsenal Win 3-1 in Japan

Arsenal played the third match of their Asian tour earlier today when they took on Nagoya Grampus in Japan. After putting seven goals past both an Indonesian Dream Team and the Vietnamese national team in their first two games this looked like it would be a tougher test for Arsenal. Nagoya are in the middle of their domestic season at the moment in what is a fairly strong league in Japan.

Arsene Wenger picked a pretty strong team for his return to the last club he managed before taking the reins at Arsenal almost 17 years ago. What was noticeable was that Arsenal started with three full backs in their defence after Laurent Koscielny picked up an ankle knock in training. With Thomas Vermaelen out for a few months with a back injury Arsenal's central defensive options already look quite limited and the boss is surely going to have to seriously consider bringing in a new central defender very soon. 

Arsenal started quite well and Olivier Giroud got his sixth pre season goal with a header from a Tomas Rosicky cross after three minutes. Arsenal continued to attack and it looked like only a matter of time before they added to their lead. The second goal came shortly after the mid point in the first half when Giroud was felled in the area and Ryo Miyaichi stepped up to score the penalty in his hometown. 

Arsenal were 2-0 up at half time and as per usual on this tour the boss made plenty of changes to the team. One of those changes was the introduction of 16 year old Gedion Zelalem who had already impressed when coming on for the second half of the previous two tour games. He took only 10 minutes to have an impact on the game when his excellent pass paved the way for Theo Walcott to score Arsenal's third goal.

A three goal lead seemed to be more than enough for Arsenal and so it proved to be despite their opponents scoring themselves with 20 minutes to go. All of the attacking players were changed during the game but only Kieran Gibbs was substituted in the defence as Ignasi Miquel was the only defender on the bench. When the full time whistle went it was all smiles and cheers as Arsene made a speech which went down very well.

Next up it's a game against Urawa Red Diamonds on Friday to finish the tour off before the team heads back to England for the Emirates Cup. I've said before that I'm less than happy with the club's opponents in the Emirates Cup and I can only imagine how many fans feel about Galatasaray being invited to play. Some of those Arsenal fans would have been in Copenhagen for the UEFA Cup Final in 2000 when Galatasaray fans started what turned out to be some very serious violence.

I have no doubt that there was retaliation from Arsenal fans, but it was the Galatasaray fans who went looking for trouble in the first place. Maybe the club will feel they are building bridges with Galatasaray, but there is the potential for trouble at the game and that's something nobody wants to see. I hope it all passes off peacefully but I can't help feeling the club have made an error.

Away from actually playing games there is little else happening at the club as there is still no positive news on the transfer front. Personally I'd love to see Gonzalo Higuain arrive as soon as possible and Bernard looks like he's a pretty good player too. I'd be happy to see either Marouane Fellaini or Lars Bender arrive also and a centre back must be on the bosses mind too. 

I have no desire to see Luis Suarez in an Arsenal shirt and I can't imagine too many Arsenal fans would choose him over Higuain. They're both top class players in my opinion and would add an awful lot to the team, but Higuain doesn't bring the baggage that Suarez does. The squad needs a top class striker though and the sooner one arrives the better.

Any top class striker needs players to make goals for him and there are few players in the game better than Cesc Fabregas at doing so. Manchester United have made their pursuit of him public knowledge and apparently have had two bids rejected by Barcelona. My understanding is that Arsenal have first refusal on Cesc if Barcelona decide to sell and if they do I really hope Arsenal exercise that option.

It's been only two years since Cesc left Arsenal and things haven't gone quite as he might have hoped at his hometown club, but I would be surprised if the new Barcelona manager decides to sell him when he is appointed. Players like Cesc are few and far between and I can't imagine too many Arsenal fans will hold a grudge against him for leaving. He has always said he would have finished his career at Arsenal if Barcelona didn't come in for him and it would be a huge blow to see him sign for another English club.

His departure was one which really hurt and the last time an Arsenal player's departure hurt like that was when Liam Brady left in 1980. Brady ended up back at the club in a coaching capacity and it would be great to see Cesc come back as a player. I won't be holding my breath but I can always hope for it to happen.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


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