Arsenal succumbed to defeat for the first time in our pre-season, albeit on penalties, as Real Madrid were victorious in the US.
Our Gunners named a strong side for the game against the Spanish side, managed by footballing icon Zinedine Zidane. The previous games had seen plenty of our promising youngsters on show, but this game gave our stars the opportunity to stretch their legs – and our star strikers the chance to play alongside each other once again.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both started the game as well as Mesut Ozil who faced his former side. It meant spots on the bench for the impressive Eddie Nketiah, Robbie Burton, James Olayinka and Tyreece John-Jules.
Zidane also named a decent eleven, with the likes of Modric, Benzema, Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos starting the game.
Once again, we made a strong start, and within the first ten minutes we were not only a goal up, but we also had a man advantage.
Alexandre Lacazette rounded Keylor Navas and looked set to score, but his goalbound effort was blocked on the line by defender Nacho – not ours – which meant an immediate red card.
It was Laca who stepped up to take the spot kick, and his low effort smacked off the bottom of the post, ran along the line, hit the other post before crossing the white paint.
Mkhitaryan just minutes later had a great shot saved well by Navas, and we had the initiative. It prompted Zidane to make an early change, with new signing Luka Jovic off, and defender Raphael Varane coming on.
It didn’t stop us though, as we doubled our advantage soon after. This time it was Auba who did the damage, he rounded Navas after a great touch by Laca to set him up.
Two goals to the good, and the game levelled out in the run up to half time. We then gave Real a window of opportunity, as Sokratis was sent off for a second yellow. Real came close to reducing the deficit just before the whistle, as Benzema’s header clipped the post, but it wasn’t to be.
Half time, and two goals up against Real Madrid. Not bad boys.
It wouldn’t be Arsenal without some form of tripping ourselves up, and the second half saw us take our foot off the gas.
Real Madrid made a host of changes for the second forty five, with Hazard, Vazquez, Benzema, Navas, Mendy and Carvajal coming off, with Bale, Isco, Asensio, Courtois, Marcelo and Odriozola coming on.
It worked, as Bale scored in the 57th minute with a goal after a rebound in the area. 2-1, and game on.
Two minutes later, it was evens, as Marcelo cut back for Asensio to fire home. Unai Emery made some changes soon after, with Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette coming off for Nketiah, Burton, Nelson and Saka.
We then had three chances to win the game late on but it wasn’t to be, as the game fizzled out and led to penalties, where Xhaka, Monreal and Burton missed their efforts to give Real the win in the tightest of circumstances.
So what can we take from the game?
Saka and Nelson as supersubs
Both wingers came on in this game and showed zero fear for the illustrious opposition. They ran at their opposite numbers relentlessly, and Emery would have seen this as a possible wild card we can use to change proceedings when we are struggling. It means that both players will be used plenty this coming season.
Auba and Laca for the win
The first half was all Arsenal, and Ozil, Laca and Auba all ran riot. They were interchanging, Laca dropping deep and Auba drifting out wide. It was a pleasure, and if Mkhi can pick up his form then he too has the affinity with the trio. It is chemistry that makes these players tick and if played together, it could prove the difference.
Chambers More than Good Enough
Chambers got more minutes on tour and he had Benema in his pocket. Our defender has enough pace to be utilised on the right at times and his experience has been boosted by regular loan moves. Keep Chambers and our defence can cope with the loss of Koscielny.
The Argentine keeper has been with us since 2012, and now, after six loan spells, is finally ready to battle for the number one spot. His last loan at Reading last season saw him rise to the fore, and this tour has seen him in impressive form. A fine backup and a possible number one – and we bought him years ago for peanuts!
Next up is a match on home turf, in the Emirates Cup versus Lyon.