Arsenal 1-1 New York Red Bulls Match Report

Thierry. Miss you.

1-0 van Persie 42
1-1 Bartley (og) 84

As on Saturday, Arsenal again did all the right things for 60 minutes against the Red Bulls. Facing a well organised defence that dropped deep, they created chances, got a goal, and by pressing, prevented the Red Bulls from creating any sort of attack. Indeed, Theirry Henry was well marshaled by Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen, and it was only when Arsenal made changes and other players tired that the Red Bulls got back into the game.

Arsenal started brightly, but lost Jack Wilshere early on to an ankle problem, that will likely see him out of action for 10 days. Young striker Benik Afobe came on, and Tomas Rosicky moved into the midfield. Arsenal would dominate possession in the first half, with 66%, and completed 92% of their passes. Rosicky, in particular, was very impressive, displaying his usual quick turn and spreading the ball around excellently. With more pressure on him, he may have not been as good, as he might have not had the space, but today he was excellent, and some of that quality that we saw before his long term injury seems to have returned. Aaron Ramsey was also encouraging. He is, of course, not as good as Cesc Fabregas, but if Arsenal are to lose their talismanic skipper, Aaron Ramsey seems a better replacement than Samir Nasri (there'll be more on that later this week).

Also encouraging was Arsenal's pressing. New York were rarely able to string moves together before an Arsenal player would close them down, and it created a few chances for Arsenal; Gervinho, having nicked in ahead of a New York defender was taken down, but inexplicably Kevin Friend did not give Arsenal a penalty (in our own bloody tournament, the referees rob us). Kieran Gibbs and Robin van Persie combined down the left hand side, before van Persie nutmugged Chris Albright, but Aaron Ramsey blazed over. Arsenal, though, finally got the goal they deserved. Rosicky's free kick was lofted in, and van Persie, completely unmarked, beat the goalkeeper to head home. Soon after, it should've been two. Rosicky played a Cesc-esque ball for Gervinho in the middle, but the Ivorian, instead of chipping the keeper, kept it low, and savable.

Arsenal started the second half brightly as well, and for a time, kept New York penned in their own half. Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny were superb at the back, and Alex Song had an excellent display in breaking play up. Unfortunately, Arsenal could not add to their lead, and thus were always likely to be vulnerable. Once van Persie and Gervinho came off, Arsenal lost their spark, and Emmaneul Eboue's swansong is unlikely to convince any that he should be kept as a defensive option. Eboue was beaten easily by John Rooney, leading to a corner that Arsenal failed to convincingly clear. Theirry Henry played an excellent ball before Roy Miller cut back for Kyle Bartley to unfortunately turn into his own net. If Bartley hadn't put it in, a Red Bull attacker was waiting in the wings to do so, and hopefully it doesn't lead to Bartley losing confidence, because he impressed in his short cameo. A good reader of the game, he made some good interceptions and showed his physicality afterwards with a thumping, but fair, tackle on Juan Agudelo. With good pace, he looks a better option to be the 4th choice centre back than Sebastien Squillaci, who was left out of the squad. With Johan Djourou's concerning loss of form, however, a centre back to deputise for the very good first choice pairing of Kosicleny and Vermaelen is needed. It must be remembered that this was a pre-season friendly, and more important than the result was the performance. Against a decent, and very much in shape team, Arsenal had a pretty good performance, and with more luck, would've had a larger lead. The first choice defence looked unlikely to concede, and while the fans at the Emirates were displeased at the final whistle (unfairly), it was a good exercise in preparation for the season.
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