Pre-season match reports Arsenal v Barnet and 7-1 slaughter of SC Columbia

The first game of the pre-season has passed and we drew 2-2. Wenger provided us with a good opportunity to check out our new signing, as Thomas Vermaelen was the only player to play 90 minutes. The friendly also saw the return of Thomas Rosicky who started the game with the captains’ armband.
Before I go into a more detailed assessment of some of the younger Gunners on display, I feel it’s appropriate to comment on the more senior players present.
Manuel Almunia: Solid, as you would hope and provided good vocal support to Vermaelen.
William Gallas: He put in a strong performance at the heart of the defence. Gallas will be hoping to get more playing time alongside his potential new partner to build on this performance.
Mikaël Silvestre: At left back he offered little going forward but was defensively compact and reliable.
Thomas Vermaelen: He started well and showed his ability for reading the flight of a ball with some commanding headers. He passed the ball crisply and always to feet. In the second half, having been asked to captain a young team, he made some vital clearances.
Johan Djourou: The hot defensive prospect coped well, out of position at right back. This could be a big season for Djourou to establish himself, as he is a rock in the air. One powerful run through the centre of the park showed his technique and could have led to a goal scoring opportunity but for a tight offside call.
Tomas Rosicky: Coming back from injury but not backing out of a single tackle. He carried the ball with composure and looked as if he could resume first team duties as if it was all a bad dream.
Andrey Arshavin: Starting the game in his supposed preferred position up front, Arshavin scored the opening goal. He showed an extremely good understanding with both Rosicky and Wilshere despite looking some way short at this early stage in pre-season.
Onwards to the younger players:
Jack Wilshere: Almost every touch showed class and decision making skills beyond his years and he linked up with Arshavin and Rosicky with ease. He played an important role in our attacking play and hopefully we will see more of his impressive talent this season.
Sanchez Watt: A rangy centre forward with pace and a neat bag of tricks. Leading the line was a big task but he played well and assisted Arshavin with a neat cross. Every trick he attempted was made with purpose and well executed. A fine performance.
Mark Randall: The more senior player in central midfield never really got a hold on things. He sat deep in a playmaker role but frequently over hit passes, got caught in possession when trying to turn and was caught square with Frimpong at times. Showed a good first touch but perhaps the centre of the park is too busy for him to take the time he benefits from.
Emmanuel Frimpong: A strong player with lots of hustle and bustle but not necessarily the most disciplined. His partnership with Randall showed little balance but his work rate was appreciated and he was relatively strong in the air.
Vito Mannone: May well push Fabianski for some appearances this season as both are well regarded. Not very busy but the distribution from his hands was very impressive.
Craig Eastmond: A feisty performance at right back, where he moved forward well and drove a telling cross across the face of goal that just needed someone on the end to convert it.
Thomas Cruise: Put in a good showing at left back, often pushing forward to overlap Barazite and coping well with his defensive duties. Cruise is strong in the tackle and capable in the air.
Luke Ayling: A commanding performance from the young centre back Ayling, who looked extremely comfortable with his responsibilities alongside Vermaelen. Strong in the air and on the floor, he burst forward towards the end of play to hit a long-range effort. Luke put in one of the most impressive and confident performances of the day.
Conor Henderson: Lining up in centre midfield alongside Coquelin there was a much better balance in the centre of the park than there had been in the first half. Henderson showed moments of real class as he sprayed the ball around. His occasionally predictable preference for his left foot did not get him into trouble and he orchestrated play wonderfully.
Francis Coquelin: Francis may even have eclipsed Henderson’s performance as he showed plenty of composure in the centre of the park. Always looking to keep the ball moving and initiate attacks, Coquelin was the main reason for the balance in midfield. His reading of the game and positional sense were exceptional as he illustrated what an intelligent player he is.
Gilles Sunu: Looking a little short technically alongside his midfield counterparts, Sunu made up for the deficit with his power and pace. His direct style of play was refreshing and he looked very comfortable floating on either wing into more advanced positions.
Nacer Barazite: Somewhat stole the show with an exquisite finish curled into the far side of the goal after some interplay in the box. There is anticipation that Nacer could have something to offer the first team this season as his physique and technique mean he wouldn’t look out of place. Graceful on the ball, he always showed intelligent use of the players around him.
Jay Simpson: Had something of a quiet game, chasing a number of lost causes as he was slightly starved for service.  Simpson will hope to make more of an impression in subsequent pre-season games before perhaps seeking further loan experience.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas: drew comparisons from the crowd to Adebayor but primarily because of his build and stature rather than his playing style. I say this because Emmanuel-Thomas wasn’t frequently offside. He seems to be lacking a bit in pace but his use of the ball was generally good even if he didn’t throw his weight around quite as much as we would like to see.
So there we have it, a good performance at this early stage. It would be nice to hear what you thought of the team performance if you were at the game or caught any coverage. Please enjoy the excellent batch of stills captured by Photographer Nicky Hayes of News International.
Rosicky shoots!
Vermaelen clears the lines…
Arshavin! , Arshavin! , Andrey Arshavin…! He should have come to us sooner, he wanted to be a Gooner, and now he will wear the colours Red and White! (Rpt) Arsh – avin, Arsh – avin Andrey – Arshavin… (rpt with increasing speed to a crescendo -Glinka)
Success begins at the back….
OK lets get organised…. we start by clearing the nose!
We are the Arsenal and we are the best…
We are the Arsenal, so shove all the rest…!
­Arsenal 2 – 2 Barnet Arshavin (43), Barazite (51) – Yakubu (45), Charlie (83)
Match report by The Brady Bunch

Next up the Austrian connection…
Sc Columbia Floridsdorf v Arsenal – played 21st July 2009
The match was overshadowed by the awful news of Samir Nasri breaking his leg earlier in the day SC Columbia is a team made up of part-time amateurs. The Columbians finished eighth in the fourth division of their league in Vienna. Arsenal started brightly and made the most of the laid back atmosphere. It wasn’t long before Arshavin made a probing run inside the left flank and his effort clattered into the hoardings from 15 yards out.
Niklas Bendtner had some nice touches between himself and our Russian. In fact Bendtner had the bulk of the chances in the first half. There were some lovely interchanges of passing between Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey looked very sharp and tried to shoot at every opportunity. The first goal came on 36 minutes from a silly goal keeping error.
Mikael Sivestre had run back towards his goal, and played a back pass to Almunia’s near post corner of the six yard box. Instead of lashing the ball away with his left foot. In an effort to out “David James” with the sudden rush of blood trademark of the established English Keeper, Almunia did his aspiration to become Englands number one by dragging the ball back towards his right foot and tried to dribble around the two advancing Columbian attackers The ball was slid into the net much to the embarrassment of the blonde haired Spaniard.
Arsenal immediately counter attacked and equalised within seconds after a lovely one two movement between Wilshere and Diaby, who finally dispossessed the Columbian defender on the bye line and squared a simple ball to the waiting Bendtner who side footed the ball home from 1 yard.
The second goal came from 20 yards, his right foot unleashing a fierce shot into the bottom right hand corner. The third goal from Bendtner was sheer class, again Ramsey was involved, the move finished after a chip from Bendtner out wide Ramsey who timed the return to perfection into the instep of Bendtner who walked it easily around the keeper to finish.
Half-time SC Columbia 1 Arsenal 3
The second half saw eight changes and many experienced players came on. Rather interesting was the midfield combination of Senderos and Alex Song. Arshavin stayed behind Robin van Persie. Denilson continued playing as defensive midfielder and had a good game overall, his pass distribution was good.
It wasn’t long before van Persie was on the score sheet with a cleanly struck penalty after a Columbian defender handled in the box. The fifth goal came after a nice cross from Sagna and van persie headed it easily into the net.
William Gallas scored the sixth goal after a free kick from van Persie on the right, froma rebound out of defence, Senderos directed a lofted header back into the danger area where Gallas directed the ball into the net.
The seventh goal came from a corner taken by Denilson, and after an initial rebound off the feet of Song, Ramsey seized the chance and drove the ball into the net from eight yards out. All in all a confident performance from the Gunners, to make up for the bad news earlier in the day.
SC Columbia: Gerhard Taschwer, Mario Handl, Michael Urban, Dominique Lehner, Thomas Pollack, Roman Horvath, Alexander Frimmel, Thomas Potlatnik, Roman Flandorfer, Julius Simon, Patrick Lehner
Arsenal :Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue, Mikael Silvestre, Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou, Jack Wilshere, Denilson, Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin, Nicklas Bendtner
Second half subs: William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, Philippe Senderos, Alex Song, Armand Traore, Robin Van Persie, Wojciech Szczesny
Full Time : SC Columbia 1 Arsenal 7
Scorers: Bendtner 36, 44,  Ramsey 39, 83,  Van Persie 56 (pen), 73, Gallas 77.
Arsene Wenger gave reassurance after the match by indicating that the fracture sustained by Samir Nasri was not too serious and will heal in six weeks. he said that the return of Rosicky would cover that loss. He was happy with the performance overall, and the fact that many goals were scored. Arsene was rather coy about the future of Phillipe Senderos and suggested that his future might not be at the club, with talks about his options to come.

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