Arsenal 2-1 Malaysia: Match Report

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Chuks Aneke of Arsenal during the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's Stadium on July 14, 2012 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

0-1 Azmi Muslim 45'
1-1 Eisfeld 87'
2-1 Aneke 90'

Arsenal's blushes were spared with two late goals from Thomas Eisfeld and Chuks Aneke securing Arsenal's second victory of the preseason over Malaysia. In a match played at a slow tempo in very hot and humid conditions and on a terrible pitch, Arsenal's passing was sloppy for most of the 90 minutes and downright horrendous at times, to which Malaysia took full advantage, utilising a very quick counter attack.

Malaysia looked the brighter of the two sides early in the match, with Arsenal having difficulty with the conditions of the playing surface and the weather. Malaysia's chances, though, consisted of peppering the Arsenal goal with long range efforts, which Vito Mannone dealt with effectively enough. Arsenal's pressing was evident in the early stages; Marouane Chamakh worked hard at leading the first band of pressure, and Arsenal were hardly troubled.

Chamakh also had the first chance for Arsenal; Abou Diaby's terrific long-range pass into the path of Chamakh was volleyed, but, unfortunately for Chamakh, straight at the keeper. It was, though, an excellent move, and Chamakh's movement looked better than it has in a good 18 months. Diaby too was impressive, showing a good range of passing and dribbling ability.

Chamakh and Andre Santos, who was playing in a free, attacking "wide" role, combined for Arsenal's best chance of the first half, with a one-two on the edge of the box before Santos screwed the shot wide. He also had Arsenal's other clear chance, nicking the ball at the edge of the area, before finding his shot saved.

Malaysia were growing in confidence, though, and when Francis Coquelin failed to close down Azmi Muslim at the end of the half, he fired into the top right corner of the goal from long range, beating Vito Mannone who didn't even dive for the shot, giving Malaysia a surprising 1-0 lead.

Arsenal made 10 changes at the half, with Alex Song, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ryo Miyaichi and Benik Afobe all coming on. The standout performer of the half, though, was Chuks Aneke. His range of passing, especially from the deeper areas, was fantastic, and he showed good intelligence about when to interchange with Oxlade-Chamberlain and when to push forward.

Malaysia, though, could've scored, after they were sent through a square Arsenal backline. Vito Mannone, though, held firm. Arsenal, though, slowly started to turn the screw. Benik Afobe was played in with a typical Alex Song through pass, but instead of going around the keeper, he shot straight at him, and missed the chance. Afobe also hit the post from a quick free kick (he turned out to be offside), and Ryo Miyaichi created a good chance for Theo Walcott that saw the England man fall over in the penalty box. The goal did eventually come though; Alex Song played a through ball out wide for Nico Yennaris who drove infield and cut back for Thomas Eisfeld who slammed the ball into the back of the net. Minutes later the comeback was complete as Aneke played a one-two with Ignasi Miquel on the edge of the area before taking a shot that was deflected into the goal.

So, what did Arsenal learn from today's match? Probably not much; Diaby and Aneke were both very good, and Chamakh and Afobe made positive runs. There still seems to be a little flakiness about the midfield cover and pressing in the second stage, but in difficult conditions, it's hard to tell. Either way, it's 90 minutes of pre-season action completed, and Arsenal are one step closer to the new season.

First half: Mannone; Jenkinson, Djourou, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Coquelin, Arteta; Gervinho, Diaby, Santos; Chamakh

Second half: Mannone, Yennaris, Eastmond, Bartley, Miquel; Song, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott (Eisfeld 80), Aneke, Ryo; Afobe

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