Today, Arsenal officially kicked off their pre-season campaign in Australia following an exciting 2-0 game against Sydney FC. The fixture saw the first-team debuts for summer signings Sead Kolasinac and record-breaking transfer Alexandre Lacazette.
To kick off the game, the club handed starting appearances to Academy players Joseph Willock, Krystian Bielik, Cohen Bramall, and, Reiss Nelson whilst the remaining prospects got an opportunity towards the end of the game. Out of all of the youngsters, prolific midfielder, Reiss Nelson ran the show and was arguably the best player on the pitch.
The 17-year-old played an important part in the first goal of the game, charging forward on the right flank before having his attempt sent out for a corner. World-class playmaker Mesut Ozil proceeded to whip in a corner that was met with an overhead kick from captain Per Mertesacker.
For the remainder of the half, there was a considerable lack of chances for the Gunners with no clear chance of scoring. The likes of Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, and, Francis Coquelin had modest chances but failed to find the net.
The opposition, Syndey FC, put in a favourable performance in the first half, with goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne being the side’s best player. In the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Australian side were unlucky to not bring the game level as midfielder Josh Brillante broke the line of defence with forward Matt Simon smashing the rebound into the side netting. The first half concluded 1-0.
The second half saw the introduction of Emiliano Martinez in goal for the Gunners with the opposition also making a number of changes. The first proper chance of the fixture arrived just 10 minutes later following an incident where defender Seb Ryall seemingly handballed in the penalty area. However, despite replays showing the ball actually hit his back, the penalty stood and Danny Welbeck stepped up to the spot but saw his efforts saved by Redmayne.
Syndey soon grew into the game following the saved penalty, having brief, yet promising, counter attacks against the North London side. Forward Charles Lokolingoy had a good effort saved by Arsenal’s Argentinian goalkeeper after 65 minutes to keep the game level.
Following this was unquestionably something you do not see on a football pitch often as all 10 outfield players were subbed off for more experienced personnel alongside more academy players. Arsenal’s first summer signing Sead Kolasinac showed promising signs in his first game at the club, putting in a solid performance at left centre-back of the back three.
All you really need to know regarding the substitutions coming on was the fact that Alexandre Lacazette was ready to make his Arsenal debut, and registered his first goal for the club just 15 minutes later from decent range with an assist from Alex Iwobi.
In the dying minutes of the game, there was little room left for action with a lot of Sydney’s players looking tired on the pitch. The match concluded 2-0. No injuries, two signings with propitious debuts, academy players flourishing, and most importantly, 80,000 happy fans. A great day for the club and fans around the world alike.
Starting Arsenal Player Ratings:
Petr Cech 6; Krystian Bielik 7, Per Mertesacker 7.5, Sead Kolasinac 7; Reiss Nelson 8, Francis Coquelin 7, Joseph Willock 7, Cohen Bramall 6.5; Mesut Ozil 7.5, Theo Walcott 6; Danny Welbeck 6.5
Full Match Highights: