Arsenal opened their preseason tonight in France, facing off against RC Lens in a match that was part of the Jeff Reine-Adelaide transfer. Playing in front of a good-sized and loud bunch of supporters, Lens played quite well, while Arsenal looked to be a little bit rusty, but the match ended 1-1.
Mathias Autret opened the scoring in the first half after Calum Chambers’ wayward defensive header fell to Lens in the box, Autret applying the tap in to a cross that evaded a stranded Emilio Martinez. Arsenal at this point were struggling to string long series of passes together, although there were a couple of decent chances from the visitors as well. Many of the players looked out of form, which is to be expected; Theo Walcott had some liveliness, but couldn’t overcome Abdoul Ba, who is a giant. Francis Coquelin was out of position a few times and hadn’t dialed in his passing. Mathieu Debuchy was attacking more than defending. Per Mertesacker had to deal with practically a breakaway, moving just fast enough to put off Autret early on.
The second half, as is customary, brought wholesale changes. Krystian Bielik, Matt Macey, Serge Gnabry, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell, and Kieran Gibbs all stopped in for some minutes, and Macey had to be on his toes to make a good save early on. That was the only real action of note until Arsenal finally produced a breakthrough; Gnabry had space between the lines and fed a pass through to a streaking Ox on the right, and the latter chipped Nicolas Douchez rather sweetly to equalize:
Oxlade-Chamberlain equalises with a delightful finish pic.twitter.com/8onbBZQIgp— Terje H (@ArsenalTerje) July 22, 2016
In the end, the match finished 1-1. For a first preseason game, the primary targets were met, though: gain some fitness, see some young players in competition, and make it out without injury. Next up is a match against MLS All-Stars in San Jose in one week’s time.