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Arsenal 2 - 2 Boca Juniors: match report

He's still basically a genius.
He's still basically a genius.

1 - 0 Robin van Persie 29'
2 - 0 Aaron Ramsey 46'
2 - 1 Lucas Viatri 68'
2 - 2 Pablo Mouche 71'

Arsenal started their Emirates Cup today with a 2-2 draw against Boca Juniors of Argentina in a match that the Gunners dominated until about 55 minutes in, when they stopped doing good things and started doing tired things.

For the first 50 minutes of the match, Boca Juniors couldn't even get a shot. Arsenal were pressing pretty well, but not spectacularly; it was more a case of the Buenos Aires club just not looking bothered to do anything except foul Jack Wilshere. For their part, Arsenal were creating chances through Gervinho, Wilshere, and van Persie, but nothing really troubled Augustin Orion.

The Gunners were displaying their new tactics defending set pieces, which mainly consist of only one player on one post, zonal marking, and creating a big cluster of madness (no mammoths, spears, or tiger traps). They looked solid enough defending the occasional free kick and corner, and indeed, off of a corner in the 29th minute, Arsenal were off to the races. The ball was cleared into the path of van Persie, who laid it off to Wilshere. Jack played it ahead of the sprinting Gervinho up the left, who moved toward the 18 and delayed long enough for van Persie to dash across the box and flick home the Ivorian's perfect low cross.

It was a vintage counterattack goal, looking not a little bit unlike Robert Pires and Thierry Henry circa 2002. Arsenal would continue to pile the pressure on, Wilshere (who had a penalty denied earlier in the half) looking his usual self, bursting past a slower marker and getting pulled down. The half drew to a close with Arsenal up 1-0.

Carlos Vela, Aaron Ramsey, Sebastien Squillaci, Vito Mannone, and Marouane Chamakh all came on to start the second half, and Arsenal didn't take long to move even further ahead. Vela capitalized on some sloppy midfield play to take possession and dribble through a non-existent Boca defense, the first challenge coming on the edge of the 18 as he laid off a pass in the path of Ramsey. The Welsh captain did not disappoint, crushing a first time shot that whistled past the ear of Orion and into the back of the net. 2-0.

Arsenal started to glide a little bit after their second, and a certain Juan Roman Riquelme finally warmed to his task. As the Gunners softened up a bit in the London summer, Boca began to threaten. Arsenal slid off the pressure slider a bit, and Boca finally broke through 66 minutes in. Squillaci was dispossessed 35 yards from goal by Riquelme, Johan Djourou moved towards the playmaker even though Jenkinson had him covered, leaving open Viatri, who buried Riquelme's pass near post. 2-1, not pretty by Arsenal, all the ghosts of last year emerging once again.

It wouldn't take long for the equalizer.

An Arsenal clearance fell to, who else, Riquelme, and he slid a through ball straight up the middle. Djourou looked to have it covered, but his sliding attempt at a clearance deflected off his own knee from his own foot, rolled in front of a suddenly smiling Mouche, and was in the back of the net before Mannone had a chance to set himself. 2-2.

Riquelme had a free kick five minutes from time, but Mannone was able to beat it away, and the game petered out. Same time tomorrow, New York Red Bulls come on in; be sure to check out Ben Schneider's tactical preview of that match.