Final Result: Nurnberg 3-5 Arsenal (Geis 24′, Duah 29′, Schleimer 73′ | G. Jesus 47′, 75′, Elneny 54′, Schindler OG. 57′, Handwerker OG. 63′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner (Okonkwo 68′); Bellerin (Martinelli 46′), P. Mari, Walters (Gabriel 46′), Tierney (Cedric 30′); Sambi Lokonga (Patino 68′), Maitland-Niles (M’Hand 68′), Smith-Rowe (Elneny 46′); Pepe (Jesus 46′), Nketiah (Marquinhos 68′), Nelson (Balogun 68′)
Jesus was expected to start his first Arsenal game, albeit preseason, in yesterday’s trip to Nurnberg in Germany, but Mikel Arteta opted for Eddie Nketiah, that recently extended his contract with the club to lead the line. Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe flanked the young Englishman, while Emile Smith-Rowe played the #10 role with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Albert Sambi Lokonga providing support in the midfield fulcrum. The defense line saw new MLS goalie, Matt Turner, make his debut with Pablo Mari and newbie, Reuell Walters playing in central defense. The full back positions saw Hector Bellerin lead the side while Kieran Tierney made his long-awaited comeback from injury.
Nurnberg drew first blood when Christoph Daferner nodded a point-blank header wide of the mark, as he managed to evade Walters that was supposed to be tight on him. Arsenal garnered their first attack of the attack of the game when Smith-Rowe latched onto Tierney’s cushioned pass and unleashed a curler that was destined for the top corner, but Nurnberg goalie, Christian Mathenia, was on hand to make a good save.
The home side scored the first goal when Johannes Geis was unmarked at the edge of the box and fired a thunderous strike that smashed the underside of the cross bar before creeping in. Turner made an attempt to save the ball but the ferocity of the shot was clearly too much for the American.
Nurnberg’s second goal however, left a lot to be desired. Sambi Lokonga lost possession further up the pitch and Kwadwo Duah used his blistering pace to evade Walters, came clean on goal, with Cedric Soares, who had come on for Tierney after half an hour, out of position. Duah fired a shot from quite some distance and Turner’s reaction was quite slow, as the ball found its way home to the bottom corner.
With just 29 minutes gone, Nurnberg was two goals to the good, but Arsenal managed to do nothing to trouble Mathenia’s goal for the remainder of the first half, as the Gunners best attempts were some lofted corner kicks from Pepe that was bread and butter for the Nurnberg shot stopper. There was also a moment when Maitland-Niles drilled a cross-shot from the right hand side, but the ball went wide off the mark.
Arteta made four chances after the break, bringing on Mo Elneny for Smith-Rowe, and unleashing all three Gabriels at once – Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli and everyone’s sweetheart, Gabriel Jesus.
With pretty much his first touch of ball, Jesus brought the Gunners back into the game. Picked up a loose ball at the edge of the area, exchanged passes with Nketiah and smashed the life outta the ball past the goalie at his near post. That was stuff made of dreams.
Arsenal got an equalizer from an unlikely source, as Elneny blasted a surface-to-goal cruise missile past Mathenia, which sent the handful of Arsenal supporters in Nurnberg to raptures. Two goals became three when after some intricate passing play, a swung cross which was destined for the head of Jesus was intercepted by Christopher Schindler’s outstretched leg which put the ball past Mathenia in the Nurnberg goal.
Arsenal went into cruise control mode when Nketiah’s shot ricocheted off the cross bar onto Tim Handwerker who suffered the ignominy of yet another own goal all thanks to some pressure from Jesus. This was followed with a fluffy of Arsenal substitutions that saw Arthur Okonkwo, Ismail M’Hand, Flo Balogun, Charlie Patino and new boy, Marquinhos come into the fray.
A goalmouth scramble in the Arsenal box allowed Lukas Schleimer to peg the Gunners with literally his first touch, after coming on as a sub for the match opener, Geis. Jesus got his brace and put the icing on a well-baked cake when he converted a sleek cross from Martinelli to make it five.
Five goals are always nice to see from an attacking standpoint, but its quite a concern when you concede three at the other end. In just 45 minutes, Jesus had given the fans a glimpse of what is to come this season, and the fans can’t wait to see him in action again when the Gunners take on Everton in the M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, USA next week Sunday.
We are so grateful to Jesus and Mohamed for saving the day!
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