Friday, February 3, 2023

Report: Benfica 2 – 1 Arsenal

Arsenal ended their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 defeat to Benfica in the Eusebio Cup in a game very much of two halves.  The Gunners made a tidy, if conservative, start in Lisbon as a reshuffled midfield of Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky took their time finding their feet against a mobile Benfica outfit.

Aside from a couple of smart bits of play by Gervinho, one pacey dribble down the left wing and failed cross to Arshavin, and a smart twist and turn followed by a shot into the side netting, little happened in the first twenty minutes. Ramsey looked controlled in the midfield, Rosicky was his usual energetic if unproductive self, while Szczesny appeared to have learned his lesson from last season by keeping his hands to himself as a Benfica player took a tumble in the box.

In the 31st minute Arsenal finally broke behind the Benfica defence. Song playing a delightful ball inside the full-back only for Robin van Persie to try and Carlos Vela the ball into the back of the net with his chocolate leg. While it wasn’t a bad effort you’d be screaming mad if he’d missed that in a Premier League clash.

Only two minutes later however, Van Persie did break the deadlock. Andrey Arshavin fed Kieran Gibbs who surged to the left-hand by-line before cutting the ball back to the Dutchman who clinically found the top corner from six yards out.

It was a very Arsenal goal and pleasing to see Gibbs show a level of composure in the penalty box which so often was Gael Clichy’s downfall. It wasn’t just in the final third that the England man proved himself useful, twice in defensive situations he came to his teammates’ rescue making last ditch challenges.

There was a major scare just before half-time as a Benfica player, his name lost in the fog of Jack Daniels consumption, scythed through the back of Van Persie sending our brittle-boned striker to the turf. Replays showed his ankle do that bend thing that makes you feel a bit sick in the mouth; strangely the Dutchman limped to the sidelines to receive treatment on his knee. Cue panic on Twitter and immediate fears of a nine month lay-off. Thankfully Van Persie got back to his feet and played the final 7 minutes of the half before being placed by Chamakh at half-time.

Almost immediately after the second half began, Benfica equalised. Both Gibbs and Vermaelen can shoulder the blame although the finish by hobbit-like Argentine Pablo Aimar left Fabianski (who had only just come on) with no chance.

Three minutes later, Benfica hit the bar as defender Luisão found himself on his own in the box after a failed attempt at playing the offside trap by the Arsenal back four. In truth the Gunners were lucky, and the Brazilian should have scored.

Just before the hour mark, the home side deservedly took the lead. Skipping inside Squillaci (we could all do it), Nolito hit a low effort inside Fabianski’s near post which left the Pole looking more than a bit pissed off. It was a soft goal, albeit one which was taken well by the former Barcelona man.

The sense of control which Wenger’s side asserted in the first half seemingly disappeared with the numerous substitutions taking their toll. Benfica stepped up the tempo, bit into challenges and upped the pressure on a young midfield which included both Frimpong and Lansbury.

A frenetic encounter grew increasingly feisty as the half went on with both Squillaci and Vermaelen making meaty challenges on opponents. Unfortunately, for all the gusto in the tackle, there was little guile in possession with the ball all too often given away in the centre of the park. While Ryo Miyaichi did his best on the left-wing, Marouane Chamakh’s invisible man routine grated hugely and made you seriously question whether Wenger is offloading the right striker.

In the final moments Fabianski produced a spectacular save to keep the score at 2-1 but despite a late surge from the Gunners, Arsene Wenger’s men were unable to equalise.

The Gunners return home with seven days to work on their fitness before next Saturday’s curtain raiser against Newcastle United.


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what a waste of time again first 45 good test even though aimar etc wasn’t on rvp and the first teamers played well then wenger brings the clowns on again squillacci and chawack fabianski is good back up keeper but snez is # 1 , its not looking good throwing away leads again but what was even worse was the non exsistent attacking or chances in that second half despite miyachi looking exciting with his pace etc chamack is not a striker so why play him their? we would be better off keeping bendtner and playing him up top and… Read more »


SPOT ON, Wenger knows he has lost the dressing room but his ego won’t let him change his ways. The original players of project youth, they all want to leave/ have left It’s easy for a manager to hide under a young squad, and have that as an excuse everytime we loose. “They are still young” “we showed good character” Thats why Wenger never spends any money on players, he would have nowhere to hide, no excuses…. his poor tactics and poor players fail to lift us to the top We will be fighting against tottenham for the 5:th place… Read more »

Johnny Massacre

If this was about money Wenger wouldn’t be at Arsenal.

He would be at Real Madrid or Manchester City.


I guess you have posted this 90% made up sh*t on 70% Arsenal related comment sites!


I’m not anti wenger but something needs to be done now. I watched the game and it was truly awful!

Jas S

where are the new signings 🙁 2nd half only miachi impressed. deja vu..deja vu!


It’s going to be a long season…


I’ve watched all of our pre season games (some on live live streem) and if anyone says they can see an improvement on last season they’re bonkers. This manager has run out of ideas and we are going to get found out embarrasingly


Although the pre-season friendlies have been disappointing, they are just pre season friendlies. Lets judge the team when the season actually begins. Fair enough its all very frustrating watching performances like we have done over the last couple of games. But players like Squillaci aren’t going to be getting any minutes as long as other centre halves stay fit.


Same old story. Can’t hold on to a lead. Goals against as a result of poor defending. It might be pre-season but unfortunately the writings on the wall! FFS Arsene buy some quality defenders and give some encouragement to us fans that we can at lease challenge for the league(cup) this year!


Paul you are absolutely right. I’m fast giving up on AW. In over 55 years of watching the Gunners, I don’t think I have seen a worse CB than Squillaci, and that includes Jim Frotheringham and Gus Caesar! As for his team set up, it beggers belief; there are holes everywhere. I could go on but I’m felling depressed about the new season, so i think I’ll just get drunk!!!!

Johnny Massacre

Best. Comment. Ever.


Where will we ever find the super quality like Squillaci


Same old same old. I have faith wenger, but I’m losing my faith. He needs to buy and spend some of that money we’ve got. 2nd half tonight wasn’t ver good at all. I worry about us against Udinese, and a poor start to the PL. The transfer window wiil be shut in a few weeks and I cam only see us selling players (cesc and nasri) not bringing anyone in. I love Arsene and what he has done for the club, but he is in danger of throwing it away.


Have a drink for me too John we all need one!


Chamakh is the worst player in the squad by a mile. I play ametuer football and I swear he wouldn’t get a game. Thank god we never paid any money for him cause if he is RVP back up we are in trouble. Where was vela tonight. Everyone seems to forget about him chamakh isn’t fit to lace his boots. It must have been a total fluke, chamakh start to last season. I have watched every pre season and he does nothing. RYO looks like the real deal, nasri won’t be mist with this guy playing.


spot on about chamack he isn’t a striker how many shots has he had in the whole of pre season regardless of how much time he’s spent on the pitch bendtner got played out of position and barely got a chance last season yet chawack plays centre forward when rvp isn’t on the pitch he may put effort in but what use is it when you have no talent? he should either play right wing or at another club imo


Hes got this week. Fingers crossed!

indian gooner

it is 2:30 am in india and am awake writing this after just finishing the game. Wenger has lost it.We have 1 week before season starts and the team has no cohesion.We hardly created any chanes after rosicky and rvp went off.added to that we had to contend with the nightmares of chamakh and is like playing with 9 players.squillaci is so horrible in defence that probably verma shits himself in the shorts coz he wont know when this bozo just runs off like a headless chicken.Our defending was all at sea.and for all the “coached the arsenal way”…… Read more »


Go back to sleep and wake up a Spud, maybe you’ll feel better.

Grammar man

Indian gooner: ever heard of using the space bar when puting a period at the end of your sentence


grammar man:

Ever heard of correct spelling and punctuation rules? Don’t you just love idiot grammar nazis?


Shouldn’t there be a question mark at the end of that sentence?

John B.

Well that was terrible.

Btw, did we actually give Seville money for Squillaci?

What a super quality signing that was.

Oh, and Gibbs looks okay, but not ready for the Prem. I can’t believe Wenger is happy to weaken our left-back situation. I mean, Clichy wasn’t stellar, but he was better than Gibbs in defence.


We’ve been dreadful since February, short of form and confidence. Two of our best players – including our captain – want out. We’ve got injury problems already. For some inexplicable reason we seem to have decided against strengthening the squad. We’ve got some tough, tough fixtures in August that means we have to start fast. And the crowd are as pissed off as they’ve been in years.

Doesn’t look great does it?


Last season, if you’d bet on Arsenal not winning whenever Denilson started, you’d have made a tidy sum. This season it looks like Squillaci is the player, whose inclusion will almost always result in not winning.

Come on, Arsene, spend the cash and by a decent CB, before we find ourselves in mid-table mediocrity and our best players wanting to leave.


Gibbs is made of glass and not as good as Clishy. Wenger the stubborn old git really is going to drive the train straight into the buffers


Wenger knows he has lost the dressing room but his ego won’t let him change his ways.
The original players of project youth, they all want to leave/ have left

It’s easy for a manager to hide under a young squad, and have that as an excuse everytime we lose. Should Wenger spend on players, he had nowhere
to hide, and no excuses for his poor tactics….


Not looking good!! But I knew this any I’m not surprised one bit that we lost this game.. I no wat ur gonna say but this is arsenal we should be beating teams like this.. I would agree with u if this was 5-6 years ago. But arsenal are a very different team now -sad to say…. Some think has got to change! Wenger needs a talking to and a defensive coach or something has to come in. People just font know how much we need Cesc. Now they can see coz this pre season has been awful compared to… Read more »


We will be fighting against tottenham for the 5:th place next season, and deep down we all know that!

Look at Chamakah, look at his statistics, would he get a game with Manchester united. You’re having a laugh…wenger only signed him becuase he was a free agent,
to save money, and wenger get a percentege of every deal he makes. I remember him saying this some years ago, so actually Wenger is getting richer, while our squad is getting poorer.
Wonder why anybody dont mention this??


Look at Chamakah, look at his statistics, honestly, would he get a game with Manchester united. You’re having a laugh…wenger only signed him becuase he was a free agent,
just to save money, and wenger get his percentege of every deal he makes. I remember him saying this some years ago, so actually Wenger is getting richer, while our squad is
getting poorer.
Wonder why anybody dont mention this??
And they increase the ticket prize with 6.5%…who already had the highest in Europe. They rip us of, and nobodys saying a word!! Bloody murder

Midfield Corporal

Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t AW confirm he didn’t receive a percentage of any transfer fee when the Ian Holloway thing blew up last season. For all his faults I don’t think AW’s transfer dealings are based on how much money he can make personally.


And they increase the ticket prize with 6.5%…we who already had the highest in Europe. They rip us of, laughing in our face, and nobodys saying a word!! Take our money
and buy big houses and fancy cars. Bloody murder, I have had patience in 6 years, but now, I’ve had so much enough of this now


It’s in line with inflation & the VAT rise FFS


Ergo the club isn’t making more money from it.


It looks more and more like this season will be a train wreck. Was the line up tonight just weak? Is there any hope if Arsenal field a strong team? Did not RVP say he would leave if Arsenal did not strengthen after Fab leaves? What is Arsenal doing to strengthen? Sad to say but I’m embarassed for Arsenal and for Wenger, you can rely on them to screw it all up. Reminds me of a few seasons ago when Arsenal were challenging for the title around christmas time and Fergie, when asked about Arsenal just dismissed them saying they… Read more »


Friendly and again another over reaction to friendly results. Barca lost 4-1 to Chivas but I doubt there fans would react like this to a friendly result. The real football starts next week not today. England must be the only nation that reads anything into friendly results.


And to add to that, most players who played today are not going to be first choice players for the league.


I watched that 2nd half display. Even before the goals came somehow I knew we would concede. Given those are not our first team on the pitch but those are the players expected to step up when injuries hit. Like blogs wrote at the end of the livenblog, we do not have strength in depth. It’s a long hard season with a lot of games. We need better squad players and strengthening of the first team. On tactics, I heard the commentator say the benfica manager said he knows how to counter arsenals play so he was confident of victory.… Read more »


Yeah, but the majority of our first team wants out and/or is injured. So saying Squillaci wouldn’t normally play is facile. He and Chamakh shouldn’t be on the team.


Barca are the best team in the world, have signed Alexis Sanchez, and seem on the verge of signing our best player. Where as we….

I’m not worried about the result, but I am worried about the poor play and the lack of movement in the transfer market both in and out.


Oh, was it a pre season friendly. I though it was last season. Funny how football can do that to you

Danish Gooner

John,didnt Barca win a big game at Wemberley in May what exactly did we win, a fourth spot in a two horse race !!!


First think properly and then type……You rant how much ever about not winning trophies(IT’S OKAY)……But FFS,don’t rant about friendlies…


Some decent constructive criticism above.

I think it’s been a little overlooked, that the changes in the second half made it look more like a Carling Cup side, but fuck it, it still was very poor.

Strange thing is we normally win these no pressure games with ease and just fuck up the important one, some hopefully this has been reversed and we’re getting all the poor performances out of our system before shit gets real.

If we fuck the CL qualifier, then that will be a disaster.


Nuetral, your right Man U do have a great manager there’s no denying that. However Fergie doesn’t fuck about, if he wants a Player he will pay big. That’s the difference. Wenger will settle for second best if half the price!


Wenger knows he has lost the dressing room but his ego won’t let him change his ways. The original players of project youth, they all want to leave/ have left It’s easy for a manager to hide under a young squad, and have that as an excuse everytime we loose. “They are still young” “we showed good character” Thats why Wenger never spends any money on players, he would have nowhere to hide, no excuses…. his poor tactics and poor players fail to lift us to the top We will be fighting against tottenham for the 5:th place next season,… Read more »


Why do you keep posting the same thing? Heavy night down the pub?

John B.

Seriously, kim, this is the third time you’ve posted this ‘lost the dressing room’ bit. Give it up, yeah? You said it once, now leave it. Quite acting so desperate and maybe someone will take you seriously.

Danish Gooner

It wouldnt be half bad if someone could guarentee that we wont get any serious long tem injuries but as we all know we are as likely to go an entire season without long term injuriesas i am of winning the grand prize in the lottery.


Wow all this and we still haven’t started the season. the way we ended last season, combined with the summer sagas of fabregas and nasri is surely providing some negative vibes about arsenal, which is understandable. however, i really dont understand how people can be so negative about preseason matches, where the manager makes 7 or 8 changes in the match. we played our strongest team in the 1st half, and we were 1-0 up against a decent side so perhaps its a good idea to be abit more positive heading into the new season


mj, It’s not the match results which people are pissed about (at least I hope not). It’s the glaring deficiencies which we all can see and have not been addressed. It’s the signing and keeping of players who have no business on the team (Eboue, Almunia, Squillaci, Chamakh, etc…) yet that we still have to rely on. It’s the fact that our rivals keep getting better and we stand still. It’s the fact that moronic pundits like Lawrenson and Savage might actually be right with their predictions (which I find particularly galling). All of us love Arsenal: our philosophy, style… Read more »


Mj, ever the optimist!


Yet another match where the gunners have failed to hold on to a lead. What’s wrong?This is becoming a disease with Arsenel. If Arsene claims it’s not a problem,prove it in the epl. I believe this is due to Wenger’s tactics. His one dimensional style with the accent on attack is the root of all the evils,no,problems.Obviously there are problems which he has refused to address or beyond his control. He is ultimately responsible for the good health of Arsenal. If these problems areas are not sorted out and the gunners begin to falter,Nasri and Feb would have been right… Read more »


maybe all this negativity is rubbing off on the squid pls lets all forward positive vibe toward the team. oh fuck it


Negativity and vibe talk is nonsense. Players don’t really care what fans think. The team is underperforming because it contains many weak players, players who lack motivation, or a coach who is having difficulty motivating them.


That second half was so poor organisationly, real amateur stuff from back to front. The first team has no match fitness because they have barely played 45mins together all pre season. We are all over the shop at the moment, why are we making 9 subs a week before the season starts, our fitness is seriously below par. The most difficult start to a season ever in Wenger’s tenure and not one area is stable. Not a negative person at all, but there is far too much work to be done to be confident of a good start, both on… Read more »


The problem is, that right now these matches do matter for Arsenal. Afer the disaterous end to last season both the supporter and team need to win some games and build some confidence. Instead Arsenal have seen a prolonged transfer saga for Fab (who everyone thought would be Barca player by now, cheap scumbags that they are), an unexpected hubub over Nasri’s future (who has had exactly 4-5 good months during his entire time at Arsenal), and poor performances in pre-season friendlies. How can you expect Fabregas to want to stay at Arsenal when the team appears in disarray? Furthermore,… Read more »


LOL. The team might need improvement! Really, and what area of our team needs improving?


I’m no expert, but… the defense is leaky, so a new center back won’t go amiss, even if its just to keep Squillachi from playing. We also need a new striker as back up to RvP as Chamakh looks pants. The rest seems ok in my eyes. Is that a reason for me to insult a manager whose contribution to the club will be felt for decades. Not so sure.

indian gooner

Ah… the head in the sand syndrome..Our defense cannot be fixed by buying a new CB alone.We need a proper defence coach ala TA/MK ( remember the 2006 run to CL finals? we had a proper defence consultant). AW will not buy any more players. His familiar excuses so far in the papers say the same story. And you ask me to go back to sleep and wake up a spud? The only retort of an AKB.

“power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and AW is the proof.


Maybe insult is wrong but criticize surely, Dobbi. Who bought Chamakh, by the way? And who constructed our defense and is responsible for the defensive strategy?


I’m assuming you’re having a laugh, Dannyboy

Pete The Gun

I can see both sides of the argument, I just hope with the frustration we realise that pre season games arnt everything. The signings must be coming I just would be amazed if we didn’t sign a defender. Anyways chins up Gooners we all want the same thing, let’s get behind the boys at the Geordies next week whatever happens. Happy weekend all.


Like your style Pete. Keep it real


Can any of you guys actually spell correctly?

We’ll be fine, don’t worry.


Define “fine”, Sd


C-O-R-R-E-C-T-L-Y see it’s easy! and you spelt the same word in your comment LOL

Serious note, I understand the frustration that people are venting here, I’m frustrated too, but come the start of the season I’ll be right behind whatever 11 players take to the pitch for the Arse!!

bob john

More good news to add to those already injured. RVP. Gibbs and Vermaelen. Its easy to say be positive. Bloody hell, I was going every week in the mid 70’s when we nearly went down but that never felt as gloomy as it does now!!

indian gooner

The only remedy for all our problems…sack wenger.hes become a stubborn babbling senile. lets get someone young and willing to have proper goals for a team like arsenal.


Sacking Wenger is not the answer. For all we know, he is just doing what the board is telling him to do. We should get rid of whoever is responsible for our current transfer and development strategy.


Spot On…..First people should stop believing Ivan and other board members if they contradict what Arsene does or says because business men like politicians are not to be believed.


Stepanovs, Cygan, Senderos, Sylvestre, Senderos, Squillachi. Wenger has 1 week to sign 2 ‘quality’ centre backs. If he fails to do this, then sadly and with much regret, he has to go!


god save us if rvp or cesc gets injured… we’re trying to play david v goliath but in our case david loses 9 out of 10…

North Bank Ned

Only two shots on target and two corners all game? Not so good. I know we’ve had all the Cesc and Nasri stuff, but this just does not look like a team ready to start a season.


we should have played barnet. just to keep everyone happy…


I was actually impressed with Armand Traore. He seems like a decent left back

Daniel Wong( Hong Kong)

The article in the Bangok Post hit the nail on the head. It asked when Wenger’s transfer inactivity will end. If the gunners fail to challenge when 40 to 50 million quid wil right things,there is no time to waste.If this scenario were to take place,Arsenal /Arsenal will have to throw hundreds of millions to plug the gaps. If not,Wenger is becoming a problems with his dementia,flawed outlook and think he is god and can do no wrong. Nothing couldbe further from the truth. The inab ility to hold on to leads is becoming a joke with tArsenal with Arsene… Read more »


Traore actually defends better than Gibbs, he’s dramatically improved. Both are poor positionally, they give away too much space when back, and get caught out upfield to often. Those injuries are now becoming alarming. There seems to be a narrative already set out for Wenger and Arsenal this season, and he won’t get a break from anywhere, so he better bloody fight as though he realises he hasn’t got the support to take any more gambles, he will be forced out by fan pressure. He can’t leave anything on the table, for his legacy and the club, or this will… Read more »


who cares if it was a friendly !!!!! this is ment to be our squad players ffs what happens when the injuries come oh i forgot we already have about 7 players doubtful already for the start of the season and we have real fixtures coming up in the next month against real teams who have strengthend their squads and will possibly add a few more to their ranks whilst wenger pisses around he needed a pre season where he could try new tactics etc but its the same old shit dont care if people say we play the best… Read more »


Crikey, that has to be the longest incomplete sentence ever.


Run on sentance or not that pretty much sums up 95% of comments today, last week… well, the whole summer…

rectum spectrum

mata OR joel campbell? wow – you’re easily pleased.

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