Arsenal began their pre-season in dominant fashion, as they swept aside the challenge of MLS side Colorado Rapids to the tune of a 3-0 victory.
Goals from Bukayo Saka, James Olayinka and Gabriel Martinelli were enough to see off the Rapids, and Unai Emery’s young side did their prospects no harm with a confident showing.
The side had a distinctly youthful feel. Matt Macey started in goal, with Zech Medley and Thompson starting in the backline alongside Carl Jenkinson and captain for the day Calum Chambers.
In midfield, Olayinka and Burton were given the nod, with Martinelli, Tyreece John-Jules and Bukayo Saka just behind Eddie Nketiah leading the line. It was a grand sum of nine players from the Academy, and at times gave Colorado a torrid time.
Their youth didn’t stand in the way of playing against men far older than themselves. Saka and John-Jules especially were full of running and the Rapids couldn’t contain the constant bustle that our young boys brought to the game.
On the 13th minute, we broke the deadlock through Saka, linking up with Nketiah before racing free and dinking the ball over keeper Irwin. It was a composed finish and the 17 year old wheeled away to celebrate with his teammates, and rightfully so.
The Rapids didn’t really trouble Macey in goal in the first half, and we scored our second soon after the first, Olayinka taking the ball and sidefooting a precise finish into the top corner with a wonderful strike.
Both players looked overjoyed with their goals and they had done it right in front of their coach, so they can rest assured they have done their chances no harm.
The second half didn’t see the expected raft of changes, with the side staying the same. We scored our third on the 61st minute, Martinelli diverting Thompson’s cross into the net with an instinctive finish.
We continued to press and impress, but no more goals came. We had done our job, they boys had done theirs and we had got our tour off to a flyer.
What did we learn from this friendly win?
John-Jules not far away
Tyreece John-Jules had a fantastic season for the reserves last season, and his trickery, ball control and all-round composure showed a kid who is pushing for the top. Whether it is a loan or more first-team minutes is undecided, but it won’t be long until the striker is knocking on Emery’s door.
Saka is the real deal
Saka didn’t put a foot wrong when in the first team last season, and he has carried on where he left off. His pace is frightening and when allied with his close control, he is a nightmare for full-backs. With us crying out for a winger, Saka could be the answer we need. He needs some more game time of course, but all the ingredients are there.
Martinelli’s finish gives us hope
The young Brazilian came to us with rave reports, and his finish, when examined, showed telltale signs of top talent. It takes something special to not only finish well when the ball is fizzed at you as it was with his goal, but to also be in the right spot? There’s only so much you can read into his goal and performance, but it was all plus points for Martinelli.
Can Chambers save us a fortune?
I’m a huge fan of Chambers, and his loan spell at Fulham showed his defensive game, even when playing the anchor role in midfield, is far better than it was previously. He took the skipper role for this game and he marshalled the young men for set-pieces and held the line. Chambers could be the defensive player we need, especially with Koscielny seemingly destined for the exit door.
A good win overall. Next up – Bayern Munich!