Starting XI: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelen (c), Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey, Gervinho, Chamakh.
Arsenal continued their pre-season preparations witha 2-1 win over Cologne this afternoon. Arsene Wenger handed new boy Gervinho a start and the Ivorian made a dream start to the game and his Arsenal career. Latching onto a fine Jack Wilshere pass he calmy lobbed home with what was almost his first touch.
The home side had chances early on as Arsenal’s defence seemed to be at sixes and sevens, but it was a mistake by the Cologne right back which helped set up the second. When he missed the ball Theo Walcott drove into the box, put in a low curling cross and again it was Gervinho on hand to slide the ball home to make it 2-0. The new boy was then replaced on 30 minutes by Ryo Miyaichi.
Cologne fashioned a good chance in the 38th minute, pulling the Arsenal defence apart on the break, but Carl Jenkison was on hand to block the shot. Then a careless quick free kick from Aaron Ramsey gifted the ball to the home side, the subsequent shot was saved by Szczesny and span just wide of the far post.
Almost immediately we nearly got a third on the break, Miyaichi played in Walcott behind the defence, but his attempt at a pass to the back post for Chamakh was poor and the Germans cleared.
Cologne got one back with a bizarre own goal from the last kick of the half. Carl Jenkinson did well to track the ball over the top but miskicked his clearance and saw it loop over Szczesny from 25 yards out.
As usual there were plenty of second half changes, Arsenal lined up: Mannone – Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Gibbs – Frimpong – Rosicky – Nasri – Arshavin – van Persie – Vela
Andrei Arshavin was lively early on, firing a shot straight at the keeper, and producing a magical flick from a Frimpong pass to set up a cross which Cologne defended.
Squillaci and Podolski then squared up in midfield, both players going head to head, and from the resulting free kick the home side fashioned a great chance, aided and abetted by some slack Arsenal defending. Only a last ditch block from Johan Djourou prevented the equaliser.
Tomas Rosicky tested the keeper with a snap shot from outside the box, then great work from Robin van Persie set up Kieran Gibbs but his shot from a tight angle was well saved. Shortly afterwards, the lively Arshavin fired just wide from outside the box.
Cologne then should have equalised, Arsenal’s defence was opened up again, but the shot was tame and straight at Mannone. It was the Italian’s last action as he was replaced by Lukasz Fabianski while Conor Henderson came on at left back in place of Kieran Gibbs.
As the game fizzled out it ended badly for Arsenal and for Henderson who was stretchered off with just a couple of minutes to go after what looked like a serious knee injury. We’ll await further news of that.
It was another good run out for Arsene Wenger’s side, and another win, but the Arsenal manager will want to see his team show signs of more defensive solidity as pre-season progresses.