Barnet gave Arsenal a stern workout in their first pre-season game with Tomas Rosicky given the captain’s armband after his comeback from injury.
Barnet 2-2 Arsenal
Not much should be read into the first pre-season game except the assuring comeback of Tomas Rosicky. The Czech midfielder was made captain and produced a steady performance, showing no ill effects both physically and mentally. In fact, halfway through the first half he made a crunching tackle which in the Premiership would have been a red card while he tracked back at willingly at all times.
Off the pitch it is he and Andrei Arshavin who have struck up a bond as both are able to speak Russian while on the pitch they showed in sporadic spells, a potentially potent partnership and understanding in the making. Understandably, the Gunners were very rusty; too many over hit or under hit passes while the first sign of tiredness, over ambitious long passes were the order of the first half.
Wenger was readying his side for the departure of Adebayor and in that instance, Andrei Arshavin played as the second striker. For Russia and Zenit, he likes playing on the counter preferring to float across the channel between midfield and attack. However, one could see why Wenger wants to deploy the Russian out wide; he made some telling runs behind the back line of Barnet which was one of the features of the Frenchman’s ‘Invincibles’ team. His movement created the first goal as Watt broke from the left and crossed to Arshavin to tap in. Nacer Barazite got Arsenal’s second with a fantastic curling goal. His flailing arms and timid steps were reminiscent of Robert Pires and his goal did the Arsenal legend no dissonance.
At the back, Vermaelen made his debut in what was a shaky first period for the Gunners as a whole. The power and height of Barnet’s front two caused endless problems though it didn’t help that the centre backs were played out of position as full backs therefore not stopping the flow of crosses.By deploying the forwards on the shoulder of the defence it pushed Arsenal’s backline deep. Paradoxically, the defenders like to play higher up the pitch as it means the Gunners are dominating. This was displayed in an uninspiring second half as Arsenal’s youth side had the most of the possession hence denied pressure on the backline.
At 6ft, there is an argument that the Gunners are vulnerable in the centre back positions however Toure and Gallas let in three goals from the air in 2007/08 while lasts year’s relative failures show a lack of cohesion and communication rather than a lack of height. Yakubu got in between Djourou and Gallas for Barnet’s first goal from the set piece while their second came after a confusion in defence which saw Mannone knock the ball the path of Elliot Charlie to finish.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Almunia (7) – Djourou (6), Gallas (6), Vermaelen (6), Silvestre (6) – Randall (6), Frimpong (6) – Rosicky(c) (6), Arshavin (7), Wilshere (6) – Watt (7).
Second Half (4-2-3-1): Mannone (6) – Eastmond (6), Ayling (7), Vermaelen(c) (7), Cruise (6) – Coquelin (6), Henderson (6) – Simpson (5), Emmanuel-Thomas (6), Barazite (7) – Sunu (6).
Goals: Arshavin (43), Yakubu (45), Barazite (51), Charlie (83)