Saturday 30th July 2022
Emirates Cup (PSF)
At Ashburton Grove (Emirates Stadium)
Arsenal (4) 6
Bukayo Saka 10 Pen, 19
Gabriel Jesus 13, 15, 76
Eddie Nketiah 89
Sevilla (0) 0
Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Oleksandr Zinchenko (Mohamed Elneny 79), Granit Xhaka (Sambi Lokonga 90), Thomas Partey (Cedric Soares 79), Bukayo Saka (Nicolas Pepe 79), Martin Odegaard (C), Gabriel Martinelli (Reiss Nelson 90), Gabriel Jesus (Eddie Nketiah 79).
Unused subs - Matt Turner (GK) Alex Runarsson (GK), Hector Bellerin, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Marquinhos.
Bono, Jesus Navas (C), Karim Rekik (Pablo Perez Rico 70), Jose Angel, Marcos Acuna (Kike Salas 70), Fernando (Pedro Ortiz 70), Ivan Rakitic, Oliver Oliver Torres (Munir 80), Erik Lamela (Luismi Cruz), Tecatiti Corona (Ignacio Quintana Navarro 80), Youssef En-Nesyri (Ivan Romero 70).
Unused subs - Marko Dmitrovic (GK), Marius Herzig (GK), Gonzalo Montiel, Nemenja Gudelj, Thomas Delaney, Joan Jordan, Pedro Ortiz, Lucas Ocampos, Suso, Papu Gomez, Antonio Perez, Ivan Araque.
The team sheet wasn't 100% accurate, but it contained enough clues for us to work out who any of the missing names were and decipher which players go by several names, depending upon their nationality and other preferences. The Sevilla goalkeeper, Bono, wasn't actually the lead vocalist out of U2 (although you'd have been forgiven for thinking that he was during the opening twenty minutes), his full name is Yassine Bounou; a Moroccan international who prior to today already had two goal assists to his name this year. After this afternoon's off-day he probably qualifies for two more too... for Arsenal.
I know what'll be fun, let's undertake a three hundred and ten mile round trip when all of the roads are completely gridlocked because it's the opening weekend of the school Summer holidays and there's a train drivers strike on... and just to make things ever so slightly more challenging, let's chuck an early kick-off into the equation too, and then complicate matters still further by taking 'just another ten minutes' when the (ridiculously early) morning alarm goes off, that inevitably becomes a substantial and rather lengthy lay in. Eek!
But, regardless of all the obstacles, we got there in plenty of time. Because, in spite of appearances, I'm infinitely more resourceful and organised to the nth degree on Saturdays than I am on any other day of the week.
In the half hour prior to kick-off, the matchday announcer at Arsenal, one Nigel Mitchell, had three memorial tributes to deal with, which he delivered seamlessly and very respectably.
It was announced on the Arsenal.Com website on July 22nd that legendary supporter: Maria Petri, universally known as the Gunners number one fan, who'd begun following the club as a twelve year old in 1950, had sadly passed away. A video was screened of her singing with the Arsenal women's team, who she also followed avidly, and was met with enthusiastic applause from today's sell-out gathering.
Following a period of reflection, another heartfelt tribute, dedicated the former Arsenal and Sevilla player Jose Antonio Reyes, who died in a road traffic accident two years ago, aged just thirty-four took place, which included both of today's managers: Mikel Arteta and Julen Lopetegui, exchanging their teams respective shirts with Reyes name and number on the back, nine for Arsenal, ten for Sevilla. Reyes was of course one of the Arsene Wenger era 'Invincibles' team of the 2003-04 season.
The players father: Francisco Reyes, also presented the man of the match trophy to Gabriel Jesus following this afternoon's match.
The third and final tribute was for the former Arsenal player, captain and manager Terry Neill, who died just two days ago, aged eighty.
Having joined the Gunners from Bangor in Northern Ireland in 1959, Neill began playing for Arsenal as an eighteen year old in 1960 and was promoted to first team captain just two years later and went on to make Two hundred and forty one appearances, weighing in with eight goals.
Between 1961 and 1973 he won fifty-nine international caps and scored twice for Northern Ireland, who he also served as a manager and player-manager from 1971 to 1975, when he was also the player-manager for Hull City.
After two years managing Tottenham Hotspur, who were relegated the season after he left, Terry Neill became the manager of Arsenal, replacing the retiring Bertie Mee in 1976. He led Arsenal to three successive FA Cup finals: 1978, 1979 and 1980... and a European Cup Winners Cup final in 1980. When Peter Hill-Wood dismissed Neill from his post in December 1983, he subsequently retired from football.
The Emirates Stadium (AKA Ashburton Grove) had been chosen to host the FA Community Shield (Charity Shield in old money) between Liverpool and Manchester City this afternoon, because the Women's Euro 2022 Final is being staged at Wembley Stadium this weekend. C'mon England! But Arsenal declined the offer, so that they could fit in this solitary home fixture amongst their pre-season schedule. The capacity crowd that turned out for this friendly/Emirates Cup game* obviously agreed with that decision and were eager to get a look at the new signings. I suspect that they will be very happy with what they saw and perhaps even a bit more optimistic about the forthcoming season than they have been for a few years, while Arteta has steadily built the kind of a team that he wants.
Team work makes the dream work, as they say... and the Gunners recent recruitment drive towards finding the right kind of players to blend together as been nothing short of very impressive. But all of the superlative sickliness in the world won't count for much unless Arsenal can hit the ground running when the new Premier League season starts for real next weekend.
Incidentally, the Guardiola v Klopp Shield game will be played later today at Leicester City's King Power Stadium instead, which is where Sevilla will be heading for a friendly against the home club tomorrow. And they will probably be hoping that the Foxes aren't quite as fired up as Arsenal were today.
While the crowd were paying their respects to Reyes by applauding the in the ninth minute, the hosts skipper Martin Adegaard hooked the ball forward for Bukayo Saka to run on to, the Arsenal number seven reached the ball to the right of Sevilla's area but was pushed away by Karim Rekik and the match referee Andrew Madley blew up and pointed to the penalty spot. Saka took the resulting kick himself and calmly despatched the ball past Bono. Ten minutes on the clock 1-0 to the Arsenal... nineteen minutes and it was 4-0. A four goal smash and grab raid inside a nine minute spell saw Arteta's latest model in full flow and )dare I say it) beginning to resemble Wenger's aforementioned 'Invincibles'. Granted, it's only pre-season and it won't count for anything unless Arsenal can transfer this kind of dominance to their Premier League games, but the visitors were effectively being demoralised and dismantled.
Within ninety seconds, Jesus struck again, when Gabriel Martinelli knocked a left-wing cross behind the static visitors defence for the Gunners new number nine to run on to and add his second goal.
Though you couldn't attach any blame for Arsenal's third goal to Bono, who had been left completely exposed by his AWOL backline, the keeper was the architect of his own downfall for their fourth, when he inexplicably stabbed at a back pass and weakly rolled the ball straight into the path of Saka, who compound the errant keeper's misery by slotting the ball through his legs.
|B'Jesus said Paddy!|
On the stroke of half-time, Bono suddenly remembered that goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands as he pulled off a great double-save to thwart Jesus and Odegaard ("A decent goalie would have held onto the first one", muttered Mrs W), before keeping his nerve to block out Martinelli as they went one against one.
Obviously the second half was never going to be as high tempo as the first as Sevilla steadied the ship and no less than thirteen substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.
But, there were two more goals for the home crowd to celebrate... and the next one came from an almost inevitable source.
Martinelli's corner caused chaos among the visitors ranks and Bono did well to get behind Gabriel's close-range effort, but predictably as the ball rebounded off of the Moroccan stopper, that Jesus bloke was in the right place at the right time, to snaffle up the half-chance and complete his hat-trick.
White had the chance to increase the hosts lead, but though he beat Bono all ends up with a crafty lob, the ball sailed wide of the upright.
In the final minute, Xhaka linked up with Martinelli, who motored forward from midfield before knocking a sideways pass to Eddie Nketiah (who'd come on as a seventy-ninth minute in place of Jesus) and he added the final touch.
FT: Arsenal 6 v Sevilla 0