Watching this game was going to challenging for me because it was 2 a.m. on a Monday morning where I had to get ready for work by 6 a.m., but sometimes, the love for this club can make you do some certain things, so it was a no-brainer for me. Worked up a routine for myself that made me go to bed around 10 p.m. on Sunday night, then my crazy ass alarm did its thing by 1.55 a.m. and I was up and ready for Gunner action.
The lineup was strong with its blend of youth and experience. David Ospina had finished his holidays in South America and joined up with the squad. Arsenal’s regular fullbacks, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, fresh from the kit launch, flanked the young center back pairing of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding. New boy, Granit Xhaka, made his first start alongside Francis Coquelin in holding midfield, while captain for the day, Santi Cazorla, played in the attacking midfield role. Theo Walcott spearheaded the attack.
The Chivas side had an Athletic Bilbao feel about them, as the commentator mentioned that they play only Mexicans in the team, which was really cool if you ask me. It’s quite easy for clubs out there to sign players of several nationalities to complete their squads, but when you have a team that is focused on signing only homegrown talent, you’d see that they’d have to do some level of scouting to get the very best. Chivas are the defending champions of their nation’s league competition, even though they haven’t started the new campaign as they’d have liked.
Some Online Soccer Betting folks would have put their smart money on the Gunners to turn up the style and they were not disappointed as Arsenal began the game with a greater sense of urgency than their illustrious hosts. The match opener arrived after Santi Cazorla swung a dead ball that was attacked by Chambers but the Englishman’s cutback was tapped home by Holding for his first Arsenal goal, albeit unofficial.
It has been a summer to remember for the young lad. After winning the Bolton Player of the Season in his maiden campaign, he was signed by one of the biggest teams in the country and was thrust into preseason football action to showcase his talents, now he has added a goal to it. He must be in cloud nine by now.
There was some more goalmouth action from both sides as Ospina and Rodriguez on the other end made neat saves but at halftime, the Gunners were a goal to the good. At the start of the second half, Arsene Wenger made some wholesale changes to the squad with Chuba Akpom replacing the ineffectual Theo Walcott but Arsenal had some cushion when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a brilliant solo effort to make it two goals to the good.
The Ox has always been criticized for lacking end product to his game but in three preseason matches, he has scored two brilliant goals. One can only hope he takes this great form into the new campaign, especially with Wenger trying to rest some of his big guns against Liverpool.
2-0 quickly became 3-0 in a very Arsenally way as some intricate passing saw Matt Debuchy provide a neat cutback for Akpom that was finished aplomb. Like the Ox, Akpom has been staking his claim for a first team and with two preseason goals to his name, while Walcott continues to struggle, I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually gets the nod ahead of the more experienced Englishman. I am still hoping we would sign a center forward that would fill that void though. *coughs in Lacazette*
Chivas got themselves a lifeline when Debuchy fouled some bloke blatantly in the box, leaving the ref no choice but to point to the spot. Bar the assist, Debuchy had a poor game and he committed so many fouls, earning himself a booking. He would have even left the pitch and had to thank the ref for his leniency. That penalty strike gave Chivas a new lease of live and they sieged the Gunners defense towards the end of the game but all they could muster were some weak efforts.
Wenger had a lot to say on his press conference with questions on the performances of his players and of course, transfers.
In the end, it was a strong performance from the lads and with the USA tour over, they would be flying to Norway to take on Viking SK and Manchester City before the new campaign starts in a fortnight.
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