Arsenal are a weaker side without Gabriel Jesus, while Declan Rice looks at home in a more attacking role… THINGS WE LEARNED as the Gunners lift the Emirates Cup after penalty shootout victory over Monaco
- Arsenal beat Monaco 5-4 on penalties to lift the Emirates Cup on Wednesday
- It was their final pre-season game ahead of the Community Shield on Sunday
- Mail Sport’s ISAAN KHAN looks at the key takeaways from this evening’s game
Arsenal rounded off their pre-season campaign by beating Monaco to claim the Emirates Cup, with an enthralling friendly settled by a penalty shootout.
In their final test ahead of their Community Shield showdown against Manchester City on Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s side triumphed on a home debut for several summer signings.
The visitors proved stern opponents, however, and took the lead in the first half through Youssouf Fofana, before the Gunners’ captain on the night, Eddie Nketiah, equalised.
Ultimately, the teams could not be separated and the clash was settled by a penalty shootout, with Gabriel Magalhaes netting the decisive spot kick.
Mail Sport’s Isaan Khan was at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday and here are three major takeaways from the game…
Arsenal rounded off their pre-season campaign by beating Monaco to win the Emirates Cup
Gabriel Magalhaes (left) netted the decisive spot kick, while Aaron Ramsdale saved a penalty
Gabriel Jesus is crucial for Arsenal
Eddie Nketiah, wearing the captain’s armband, worked hard to make an impact. He hurried the opposition, chasing any stray balls with an eye to breaking the backline.
His endeavour rewarded him with the equalising goal, prodding in a corner-kick delivery after sneaking to the back post.
But Gabriel Jesus’ shock injury, which is set to keep him on the sidelines during the opening weeks of the season, is likely to prove costly for Mikel Arteta.
Jesus was not included in the squad today because of a knee injury, and his previous history makes the news a serious concern for the club. The striker missed a large chunk of last season after undergoing knee surgery to fix an issue picked up while playing for Brazil at the World Cup.
True, Arsenal coped last season without him during a crucial period, though the striker adds a different dimension, and his finishing is unrivalled at the club.
Gabriel Jesus’s absence for a few weeks with a knee problem is a huge blow for the Gunners
Eddie Nketiah worked hard but Arsenal are a much better team when Jesus is fit and available
Declan Rice looked the part further up the pitch
The positions taken up in the short stints played by Declan Rice over pre-season rarely saw him in forays forward. Against Monaco today, that other side of his game was shown.
His link-up play with Gabriel Martinelli on the left was particularly of note, leaving the defence with a headache on the overlap. With Martinelli’s pace and dribbling ability, Monaco’s Chrislain Matsima could not afford to stray away from him. It allowed Rice the freedom to make runs to the byline and cut inside. The midfielder has the vision and physicality to do this effectively.
It is early days but it was a further demonstration as to why Arteta was so keen for his acquisition.
It will also be a relief that the calf knock he received in the US was no more than a minor kick. This performance furthers the boost Rice’s availability provides for the Community Shield against Manchester City on Sunday.
New £105m signing Declan Rice looked at home in a more advanced midfield role than usual
Defensive make-up needs to be correctly balanced
Arteta experimenting with positional intricacies is nothing new. But this was extreme, even for him.
Jurrien Timber swapped positions with fellow full back Takehiro Tomiyasu midway through the first half. The Dutchman then found himself in a midfield role in the second period.
But because of the pair’s forward thinking exploits, William Saliba in particular was left exposed at the back and left chasing after play. This was evident after 35 minutes when he shoved a Monaco forward who was nearly in on goal to the floor, having been left for dust.
It is clear that the defensive make-up must be correctly balanced by the time the season starts. Otherwise, the centre backs will continue to be vulnerable at the back which will be punished in the unforgivable Premier League.
Arsenal’s defence was cut open at times by the Ligue 1 side, leaving William Saliba exposed
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu (White, 62), Saliba (Gabriel, 62), Kiwior, Timber (Tierney, 62), Partey (Jorginho, 62), Rice (Havertz, 62), Vieira, Smith Rowe (Odegaard, 62), Martinelli (Trossard, 62), Nketiah (Marquinhos, 83)
Subs not used: Saka, Holding, Turner, Hein
Goals: Nketiah 43
Bookings: Saliba, Gabriel
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Monaco XI: Kohn, Matsima, Maripan, Magassa, Vanderson (Diatta, 73), Fofana, Camara (Matazo, 73), Henrique, Ben Seghir (Minamino, 46), Golovin (Akliouche, 84), Ben Yedder (Volland, 73)
Subs not used: Majecki, Boadu, Jakobs, Lemarechal, Valme, Efekele, Bery, Lienard
Goals: Fofana 31
Bookings: Ben Yedder
Manager: Adi Hutter