July 31st, 2010
Cool customer: Marouane Chamakh (left) shakes off the attentions of Luca Antonini to beat keeper Christian Abbiati
Arsene Wenger gave home debuts to summer signings Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny as Arsenal’s pre-season preparations were cranked up another notch with a 1-1 draw with AC Milan in the Emirates Cup.
The Gunners are hosting the weekend feast of football for the fourth successive summer, and are defending the trophy – the only ‘title’ they won last year.
Moroccan centre-forward Chamakh, a free signing from Bordeaux, took just 36 minutes to win over the Emirates Stadium faithful, slotting home with aplomb after good work by Andrey Arshavin.
But of the new boys it was Koscielny who enjoyed the better bow, reading play with a maturity beyond his age and experience.
The defender was playing in the second tier of French football a little over a year ago yet never appeared daunted by his new surroundings in north London.
The young Frenchman will, of course, face sterner tests than that offered by the featherweight Brazilian Alexandre Pato when the Barclays Premier League campaign gets underway in a fortnight. Nevertheless, it was a positive start.
It was a defensive partner, and captain for the day, Thomas Vermaelen who was most culpable when Milan earned their draw; Pato stealing a yard on the Belgian at Clarence Seedorf’s set-piece swung in from the left.
An all too familiar deficiency had come back to haunt the Gunners.
Arsenal began the game without four of their central midfielders. Denilson, Abou Diaby and Alex Song were all carrying slight knocks, while Cesc Fabregas is yet to return to training following his summer exploits with Spain.
In their place, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere produced fine creative displays, helped by the tenacious young Emmanuel Frimpong in the holding role.
The 18-year-old, an England youth international, showed little respect for the illustrious names lining up against him, nibbling at the ankles of both Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini throughout.
The latter, a predecessor to Frimpong, received a lukewarm reception from the crowd on his first return to the club he walked out on two years ago.
Before Chamakh’s timely intervention the match had been rather forgettable, save for an expertly timed intervention from Koscielny when Pato looked to have twisted his way clear inside the box.
Only a smart Christian Abbiati reflex save prevented Tomas Rosicky claiming a second on the stroke of half-time following good work from Nasri.
The intensity of either side changed little after the restart.
Theo Walcott injected some pace with a series of forays down the right but the lingering doubt remains over the Englishman’s ability to pick out a decisive final ball.
It was perhaps for that reason he was unleashed through the middle for the final quarter of the game.
Caught napping: Alexandre Pato (third right) pounces on slapdash defending by Thomas Vermaelen (floored) to glance Clarence Seedorf's free-kick beyond Lukasz Fabianski
After Pato had stolen in thirteen minutes from time Arsenal still had chances to steal the victory.
Carlos Vela dazzled on the left and sent a sumptuous curling effort onto the roof of the net. Another substitute Martk Randall was then thwarted twice in a matter of seconds when he should certainly have scored.
Gianluca Zambrotta still had time to send a rasping drive off the crossbar but in the end a draw was a fair result.
Celtic had earlier come from two goals down to earn a draw against Lyon as the tournament kicked-off in north London.
A breathtaking Michel Bastos free-kick put the French side ahead in a first half that had failed to sparkle.
Harry Novillo doubled the lead with a simple finish laid on a plate by Alexandre Lacazette who, just 24 hours earlier, scored the winner in France Under-19’s European Championship triumph.
Gary Hooper then halved the deficit with a debut goal before former Manchester City frontman Georgios Samaras slipped in to ensure a share of the spoils.
Source: daily mail
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