Arsenal played to a 1-1 draw with Monaco and prevailed 5-4 in the shootout to win the Emirates Cup for the 7th time. I’m not sure how much of a “cup” one match is, but silverware is silverware, right? The octuple is on - MLS All Star Skills Challenge Presented by AT&T, MLS All Star Game Presented by Target, Emirates Cup, Community Shield, Carabao Cup, FA Cup, Premier League, and Champions League.
It still looked like a preseason match: there were still loose touches and disjointed play. But the Gunners looked better. They’ve clearly taken their play up a level compared to the U.S. tour. There were passages of the free-flowing, combination team play that was a hallmark of the side last season.
Emile Smith Rowe was particularly good in the Martin Ødegaard roll. The play went through him and his distribution was a pleasant surprise. Fabio Vieira was lively playing right wing. Thomas Partey was excellent. Jurrien Timber once again showed his quality on the ball. Leandro Trossard continued his excellent preseason. He’s making as good of a case as he can for playing time, although he squandered a highlight reel pass from Jorginho that put him in behind. Eddie Nketiah scored Arsenal’s goal with a jumping volley tap-in off a corner.
In the penalty shootout, which would have taken place regardless of the full time score, all five Arsenal shooters converted — Ødegaard, Jorginho, Havertz, Vieira, and Gabriel Magalhaes all converted. Aaron Ramsdale made a great save on former Liverpool man Takumi Minamino, staying upright and reaching back with a strong palm to parry a powerful shot over the bar.
My biggest concern coming out of today’s match is Gabriel Jesus’ health. He missed out with a knee injury that reportedly isn’t serious but is “being evaluated” by the club medical staff. Given his extended absence last season with a knee problem, I’m sure everyone is holding their breath.
Arsenal are next in action on Sunday against Manchester City in the Community Shield.