Finally, some football!
Arsenal had travelled to Dubai primarily for a training camp, but thankfully a match was played - albeit a friendly.
The Gunners took on Al-Nasr SC and prevailed 3-2 with a blend of youth and experience. Goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Carl Jenkinson and Tyreece John-Jules was enough to see off our opposition, and it was a great opportunity to see some of the future of the club take to the field.
Second half subs included Jordi Osei-Tutu and John-Jules, and starting the game was Zach Medley, Ben Gilmour, Ben Sheaf, Xavier Amaechi and finally, Denis Suarez. It gave our XI a distinctive cup feel, and also an exciting glimpse into what could be in the next years.
The game didn’t exactly start well for us though, as we conceded in the 14th minute. Fernandez with a quite brilliant finish from outside the box that Leno couldn’t stop.
Coincidentally, it was the first goal from outside the box that the German had conceded this season.
We seemed to toil a bit in the intense heat, and we were stretched at times, but we were also creating a few chances, Suarez’s lofted pass to Lacazette calling on the opposing keeper to come out and foil the Frenchman.
Just before half time though, we had the equaliser. Carl Jenkinson had cut in from the right and his shot crashed off the post. The defender grabbed the loose ball though and smashed home the rebound. The pass? That man Suarez again.
The second half saw a swarm of subs, but six minutes in, we had the lead. Lacazette combined well with Ozil, and our number 9 finished well inside the box.
We made a few more subs as the game wore on and the pace dissipated, but five minutes after coming on, John-Jules had a goal.
It was of the youngsters making too, as he pressed the defence, forced the error, ran with the ball, sold the defender a dummy and then lashed home. Coolness personified for the kid ripping up the reserve league right now.
It wasn’t over and Al-Nasr were pressing, calling Cech into a great save. They did manage another goal though, scoring from the spot in the 90th minute.
The result is meaningless, but the runout in the balmy climate and the experience for the youngsters was very much worthwhile.
Plus, after so long without a game, it was just good to see some action!