Our first preseason friendly is done and dusted, and while it certainly wasn't Arsenal at their best, we did get the job done eventually. It was great to see so many youngsters along with some of the veterans, plus our new signings Ramsey and Coquelin on display. Carlos Vela was not included in the squad, presumably due to some type of injury.
In the first half we went with the more experienced lineup, and also saw Aaron Ramsey make his debut in midfield. The lineup looked like this:
At the start of the game Arsenal had a lot of the ball, and we had a chance pretty early when Ramsey played a great ball through to Bendtner who really should have done better with the chance. He took a bad touch and tried to play it back but couldn't get anything behind his pass.
This seemed to be a continuing theme throughout the first half, Bendtner getting chances and just not being able to put any of them away. His whole game really looked to be off as his passing wasn't very good either. Walcott didn't give him much help though as he seemed drift in and out of the game.
In the fifteenth minute Arsenal gave away a free kick in a dangerous position because of a foul I believe against Havard Nordtveit. Barnet took the kick brilliantly to beat the wall and Manuel Almunia to give Barnet a surprise 1-0 lead. They certainly hadn't had much of the possession and the goal was against the run of play, but they took advantage of the chances, which Arsenal hadn't done so far.
Aaron Ramsey looks to be a wonderful signing already. He completely controlled the midfield for the first half, showed great awareness and ability on the ball. He always seemed comfortable, even under pressure, and his passing was precise. He looks like he could be (forgive me for the reference) the new Cesc Fabregas. I'd say he was the best player on the park for the first half. After the game however, when asked about Ramsey's performance he said simply that Aaron "looked tired but works hard in training." He must not agree with my thoughts on his performance.
Unfortunately though Arsenal were unable to create much in the way of chances in the first half and went in at the half 1-0 down.
The start of the second half saw us make 11 substitutions, so I'll try to remember them all.
The youngsters started a bit sloppily at the beginning of the half, giving some passes away and looking a bit shaky sometimes in possession but they got into form soon enough. Jay Simpson for me looked particularly impressive, making good runs and mixing his passes well.
It wasn't long before we had equalized. Jack Wilshere, who was brilliant (he's the type of player that I get excited every time he gets the ball) fed a beautiful pass to Jay Simpson, who was making a run into the box. Simpson hit it first time and sent it into the back of the net. It was a great shot that the keeper would have done very well to save. 1-1 was the score and Arsenal were looking for more.
The second goal also involved Wilshere. He fed Jay Simpson running through the middle who sent a perfect ball across to the left side of the box which Nacer Barazite met first time and sent into the bottom right corner of the net, past the onrushing Barnet keeper. 2-1 to the Arsenal and looking much better.
The rest of the match was pretty uneventful. Arsenal were content to keep the ball and Barnet didn't really have much going forward. They did have a free kick right outside of the box with about 8 minutes to go but they wasted it.
So the match ended 2-1 to Arsenal and while it wasn't the best performance by the regular starters, the youngsters came in and got the job done, which was great to see.
Man of the Match: Jack Wilshere, closely followed by Jay Simpson. Wilshere is already a master of the pass even though he is the youngest player on the pitch. His awareness going forward and willingness to run at defenders is exceptional and he's a player that is very exciting for the future. Hopefully Arsene will keep him grounded so his potential doesn't get to his head, but I'd expect to see him in some Carling Cup games this year.
Needs Work: Just the team's sharpness as a whole. Bendtner and Walcott looked extremely rusty but that will come with time.
Arsene's Post Game Comments: He is VERY adamant that Emmanuel Adebayor will not be leaving. He said after the match that his is a very different situation than Hleb's was and will not be leaving under any circumstances. So it would be a good time for Adebayor to start rebuilding the ties with the team. Arsene was asked about which players were likely to be included in the first team squad and would only say that "a few of them" would be included but gave no names.
I'm really looking forward to the next preseason game. It's quite exciting to see all the youngsters get to play. Lots to talk about so let's hear your comments about the match and Arsene's comments. Cheers!