Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Report: Arsenal 5-2 Benfica (inc. goals)

Theo Walcott grabbed a first half brace as Arsenal hit five goals against Benfica in the Emirates Cup for the second time in three years. An own goal by Lisandro Lopez plus fine strikes by Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi wrapped up the scoring in the second half as Arsene Wenger’s squad put themselves in pole position to win the traditional pre-season tournament.

Young Reiss Nelson, playing as a right wing-back, looked eager to impress as the Gunners started the better of the two sides in the pouring rain. The academy graduate was always ready to take on his man, much to the delight of the Emirates crowd.

Arsenal’s interplay in attack was slick but they looked far less comfortable at the back and the visitors were quick to capitalise. David Ospina looked like he might save Franco Cervi’s shot on 12 minutes, however, a big deflection off Per Mertesacker helped the ball into the back of the net. (0-1)

The Gunners responded quickly through two strikes from Theo Walcott. First, the England international volleyed home after persistent work by Sead Kolasinac on 25 minutes. (1-1)

Eight minutes later he tapped into an empty net after good work from Coquelin. The Frenchman, who’d earlier had a heavy fall, was almost immediately subbed off. (2-1)

More sloppy defending by Arsenal ensured Benfica entered the break on level terms. A poor ball out from the back by Ainsley Maitland-Niles left Mertesacker and Rob Holding back tracking and despite a couple of desperate lunges, Eduardo Salvio beat Ospina with the aid of another deflection. (2-2)

Arsenal restored their lead seven minutes after the break when Lisandro Lopez slid the ball into his own net trying to intercept a Walcott cross to Giroud. (3-2)

Walcott really should have had his hat-trick not long after but, having had the ball laid on a plate by Giroud, he thrashed over wildly. The Gunners did extend their lead on 64 minutes as the Frenchman acrobatically tucked home a fine left foot cross by Nelson. (4-2) 

At this point, Wenger’s boys were really in the groove. Julio Cesar denied Giroud his second with a fine stop but the reprieve was only temporary as Iwobi soon smashed home a fifth to finish a great move started by Elneny. (5-2) 

Record signing Alexandre Lacazette was introduced for the final 15 minutes but with so many changes made by both sides, the game stuttered to a disjointed conclusion.

Earlier in the day Sevilla beat RB Leipzig 1-0 courtesy of a penalty by Ben Yedder. Arsenal play the Spanish side tomorrow afternoon.

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I was impressed with Reiss Nelson, looked decisive and sharp.


He is not ready yet. His tracking back is not good at all when we switched from attack to defence. He looked like he wasn’t interested. A very good talent but needs to work on the ugly side of the game


I agree. I think he is better off on a strong loan to further development but great raw ingredients.


Playing as a wing back your priority is to defend and he’s not really a defender. He was named as an attacker when the squad for the emirates cup was released.


He’s a forward

FFS he should be a footballer, who can either follow or not follow instructions.

Tom Gun

Ok, so assuming the Ox leaves (not something I want or necessarily think will happen), would you be happy with Nelson as back up for Bellerin? Or do we need to enter the transfer market bearing in mind we’re not going to get top top quality as he won’t want to play second fiddle especially given the fact Bellerin is so young and so unlikely to deteriorate. Thumb up for Yes – Nelson is a good 2nd choice and deserves the ‘place’. Thumb down – we need to buy another RWB. Personally I would go with Nelson and keep Chambers… Read more »

Andy Mack



When we are all discussing who we need to buy or sell we don’t normally consider the young players who might step up. We have a few right now.

Truth is if I was applying for Wengers job, I would say ‘but I don’t have 95% of the information Mr Wenger has’.

So why do we think our opinions are more important/intelligent/informed than his? So many folk have a big voice but no news. Empty cans and loud noises!



Pierce Hawthorne

kolasinac and nelson were the best by far


Dick Law paid a bundle for Kolasinac and spent years in the mountains of Bosnia stalking the man’s uncle and father.


Agreed, but I’d also add Xhaxa’s name to your list. His range of passing with any part of left foot, particularly when under pressure, is outstanding.


* Xhaka.

Corona X

You could’ve written Zulu for all I care, we’d still get it 🙂


I completely disagree. . Xhaka is way better when given space and time.. his inability to relieve pressurevwith a dribnle or burst of pace in a tight situation is by far the weakest part of his game.. why cazorla is such a huge loss


Agreed . xhaka was class today. Kept possession well under pressure and his passing ?


Kolasinac looks very impressive

Nelson looks like he belongs out there

Pierce Hawthorne

his hand in 3/5 goals…

Pierce Hawthorne



Good buy David Dein.


Clearly we need a director of football.

Wenger is clueless can never by left backs.


Cole clichy gibbs nacho kolasinac. . ?? Talking out of ur arse

Sir Henry Norris\'s Brown Envelope

Perez is a similar type of player. I hope he stays, a real fighter


Cant help but picture Nacho sitting on the bench like :/ still, i’ll take Sead and him battling for a place!

Mesut O\'Neill

Nacho will play as the LCB, Kolasinac will play as LWB.
Regular back 3 will be Mustafi, Koscielny & Monreal


I think nacho will be used primarily as a left center back this year.


Kolasinac does indeed look the part..


Elneny’s move for that goal was sublime.


Have to give him credit for that.

He works hard.

Naija gooner

does anybody here think lacazette was signed for giroud’s goals,Maintland-niles played well despite being played out of position,one can only wonder wenger’s plan for the lad and yeah nelson is a gem

Third Plebeian

If you think Niles played well you weren’t watching the game. Poor passing put us under serious pressure every time.

Naija gooner

he is not a center back,he always seems to try his best in every position and it seems its a new one each game


To be fair maybe Wenger is doing it for a reason. We’ve seen players get better before after being played out of position for a bit and then moved back eg Nacho.

Third Plebeian

Yeah, I wasn’t judging him on tackles and interceptions. I was judging him on possession and passing, which are, you know, essential for any position. He didn’t play well. I get the hype about Nelson, but I genuinely can’t understand what Niles has done this preseason to set some people’s imaginations alight.


Yeah Maitland Niles made a mistake which led to their second.

I don’t think any of our youngsters are ready for first team. Probably best away on strong loans to further develop.

Mesut O\'Neill

I would say it was Mertesacker who was at fault for the second goal, attempted to round the attacker, rushed his pass to ANM who was forced into a pass under pressure


Sead looks like a BEAST!
Impressed with theo’s movement and link play. Not to be written off too soon.


He is.


Not to be written off too soon?
He should have been replaced years ago.
let’s hope his Mrs offers him a new toastie machine for a 40goal season.


Oh come on!! Give players credits where it’s due. Walcott played very well yesterday! Didn’t lose the ball a lot. Was strong going forward. Dribbling was much better. And he positioned himself well for both of the goals. Really untracked. If it was Lacazette, people will be crazy about it, saying that this should’ve happened sooner if we signed him last season. Get real, FFS!


To be honest theo did played well yesterday. But that wqd against benefica . against better opposition even during even during this preseason games he struggled which suggests he will struggle in the league. But to be fair we need a player like Theo. You look at every other team who uses 3421 there will always be a player who is good at running of the ball like dele alli , Pedro . but as opposed to Theo every one of them can keep possession and pass under pressure. Walcot cannot dribble past a player or pass worth a damn.… Read more »


You must have an extremely short memory.
All well and good showing up with a performance is a meaningless friendly.
Walcott’s goal+assist output is generally good in all fairness.
It’s what he’s doing for the rest of the time that bothers me, he’s never been suited to the way we play and not only goes missing for large chunks of games but large parts of the season.
For me he typifies everything that’s wrong with us for the last 10 years.
He seems to be cruising.


That’s why I said, give credits where it is due. There is no use saying we should’ve got rid of him earlier when he did great yesterday. And to call it a meaningless ‘friendly’, I doubt Benfica thought about it the same way. And by all means, Theo has upped his game these past 2 seasons. He did well in the first half of last season, then didn’t get his chance again on the second half because of injury and formation change. And in case you missed yesterday’s game, he and Nelson worked tirelessly on the right flank. He dribbled… Read more »


He even made a headed clearance in our box if you can believe that.

Man Manny

One more midfielder in the mould of Cazorla; keep Alexis; we are good to go.


I agree we need a midfielder with cazorla qualities but he’s such a unique player, I’d prefer to sign someone more physical like Goretzka. Plus it would be easier to fit him into our current midfield then it would be for someone like Jean Seri from nice. I think this system suits us and we need to start signing specialists rather than people that can play in three positions well but aren’t specialists in either.

Faisal Narrage

A Vieira type is what we need; energy if Ramsey, dribbling of Santi. Perfect partner for Xhaka, as a Santi doesn’t offer the physicality that Coquelin gives Santi, and Ramsey doesn’t give the technical and on the ball skills Santi does.

Not easy to find, mind. Was hoping The Jeff could’ve become that.


What of Iwobi?


No we’re not. We haven’t addressed that midfield that cost us so dearly against bayern. You take out coquelin and we don’t have a tackler or destroyer in that midfield. We don’t have height or a strong physical presence in there. We haven’t bought anyone in that midfield to improve this. So no we’re not set just yet. Chelsea have Kante and bakayoko two destroyers, Man U have fellaini and that Spanish kid I can’t remember his name, city have Fernando and fernandhino and Yaya a strong physical presence, spurs have wanyama a complete destroyer and dier… You see my… Read more »


What about the ox. Height build dribbling passing everything in a nutshell.Granted he lacks some experience but he has played against some of the best oppositions there is (Bayer Milan )and still came unscathed. He did not just came unscathed he was one of the best player on the pitch. I understand the reluctance to give a chance to unproven player in that position but as I’ve said he is hardly unproven . I cannot see anything other than positives coming out of this move. He used to give possession away when he was young but I have hardly seen… Read more »


Walcott and Giroud were really great today, and the oppo weren’t rubbish either. I hope neither of them leave this window


Seem to be playing 2 strikers now


Giroud, had it been Lacazette who scored, there would be 50 post right now lauding him.

He’s under appreciated Giroud. He has a sublime touch, a bit of an artiste in the box.

There’s a reason he starts for France ahead of Lacazette, his lay offs are superb.

And because his game isn’t built on ‘pace’, he can continue to improve (as he has been)


Yes, more of the 3-5-2 at times. Have been wondering if we’d try that out. Would suit Giroud and make Theo more effective, and naturally Lacazette will work up top with either formation and striking partner.

Fuhgedaboudit l

Was thinking the same exact thing even before the game. Really don’t want to lose Giroud. Still trying to get over losing Szczesny to Juve.


Neither of them have been up for sale and I can’t see us letting them go now either


I was very impressed with Sead Kolsaniac. What a player. His physicality was immense. Great buy, but obviously not because he didn’t cost £50 million !!

A different George

It was only a friendly, and raining heavily, and I don’t know how good Benfica is or if they were playing their best side, and I have hardly seen Kolasinac play for Schalke (I think one half)–
He sure look the real thing. I am waiting for Arnautovic to try to push him off the ball.


He looks like he loves to shove players at out of the way as much as strikers love to score goals

Fuhgedaboudit l

The Beast from the East.


Why is anyone putting thumbs down for positive Kolasinac comments ?


Don’t think people read past the first 2 lines.. negativity isn’t quite welcome here


Yeah they hate the truth.
They’d prefer to say kind lies of each other or bury their heads in the sand.

Crash Fistfight

Yes, but there’s a difference between giving an honest assessment of the state of things and finding something negative to say when there isn’t anything.

I don’t believe we’re title contenders, etc. but that doesn’t mean everything about the club is shit.


Negativity is obviously your truth Rich. Dont dream we´re all in it with you. May the schwartz be with you

Third Plebeian

Very true.



They’re a Champions League side.

It’s not to shabby for us Europa league debutant to beat them don’t you think?;)


leave the fella to Rob, not fair taking somebody else’s hobbys.


Kolasinac was just brilliant. Signing of the season hands down. Incisive crossing,brutal defending,decent pace,sure footed, relentless stamina, he’s got it all.
Giroud had a lovely game as well. Hope Wenger plays him alongside Lacazette up front, they’d tear apart all opposition. With 3 at the back, we can actually switch to two strikers.
There were a few defensive lapses which need to be addressed but overall, we’re looking good. Nelson,Iwobi,Walcott played exceptionally well too.

Origianal Paul

The HFB isn’t stepping down anytime soon!


Cant help but feel Monreal was probably sat on the bench like :/ Still, be good to see him and Sead thrash it out for 1st team!

Original Paul

The HFB isn’t stepping down anytime soon!

Rwandan Gunner

Walcott in that second striker position did well. An indication that he migjt be accommodated into that role. The guy has goals in him. Impressed


The thing about Theo is you need to use him to his strengths.

Certain games suit him more than others.


“Get well”soon Alexis!


He can go to Paris to get well.

Manchester is a poor climate for rehab.


Apart from the defensive absurdities in the first half, some very positive signs.

Kolasinac involved in 3/5 goals. Extremely impressive.
Reiss Nelson looked very comfortable on the other side as well.
Theo finally didn’t look completely lost in the new system – frankly, quite the opposite. Was influential not only in front of the goal.
Elneny had a great game – some very good movement, some very good passes. Same for Xhaka.

Yet who impressed me the most was Giroud – excellent use of his strenghts, very good first touch, world class finish.


He starts for France for a reason.


Which is why I said before it is NOT clear cut assumption that Lacazette comes in to replace Giroud as MOST pundits foolishly interperate.

If anything, Lacazette is partial solution to replacement of Alexis. He adds the goal efficiency part but we still need to replace the Chilean’s “unpredictability” element.


Credit where it’s due: Elneny kept our midfield ticking. Xhaka was silent today. I think Arsenal fans have written Elneny off too soon. His passing and general calm on the ball is vital for game control.

Original Paul

I love that Elneny is always available for a pass and rarely gives the ball away.


Who down-voted this? It’s like someone doesn’t want Elneny to always be available for a pass and to always give the ball away…

Original Paul

Yeah I thought that…

Faisal Narrage

Santori probably.


I definitely wouldn’t call Xhaka’s performance silent. I’ve seen several very good passes throughout the game from him today. Also, he seems more calm on the ball than last season


If you thought Xhaka was quiet you must have watched a different match. His passing was brilliant


Honestly i wasn’t that impressed by Elneny either. He is enthusiastic but his passing, tackling and positioning all seem hit and miss and he does get dispossessed.


Playing center back has helped his game.. but, Slides in for the tackle too early thereby eliminating himself and giving the opponent an advantage..


Eleney done well but was a shame to see the Coq injured so soon, hes developed into a good CDM and now has added some tricks to his game so rarely get caught on the ball, personally Ramsey is the worst midfielder we have, just cant wait for the cazorla/xhaka combo then we will have a real shot at the title.
Also everyone raves about lacazette but he seemed lazy and a cant be arsed attitude about pressing to win the ball back, hope he improves.

Islam Ismael

Yup, playing CB has improved his vision and long rang passing, but he still poor in defince, he is generally improving and going to add a great value to the team

Faisal Narrage

I’m a big fan of Elneny. We all know santori isnt, which is why I want him to make it.

He provides the energy of Ramsey but isn’t better technically. I think with a bit more creative impetus like he has for Egypt, he could be the ideal in house solution to partner Xhaka.

Original Paul

Was it me or did Ozil look like he wasn’t happy coming on for ten minutes just to get wet?


Yes it was just you

Original Paul

Ok, that’s good thanks Martin. How many people did you talk about this point with? 🙂


Bro it’s only u. Trust me. Stop finding things that’s not there.

Original Paul

I am glad


Looks like we’re seeing the options in the team shaping up. We started with Giroud on apex with Theo and Iwobi supporting. We had Lacazette with Welbeck and Ozil supporting. I still think we will need one more player with a bit of invention coming off the CF (particularly if Alexis is gone) BUT you can see how useful Giroud is and why he starts ahead of Lacazette for France. Superb work playing in others and a well taken goal again. Had it been Lacazette, some people would be wanking themselves off to no end. Walcott. He can hit a… Read more »


Giroud does not start ahead of Lacazette!!!! Why do people keep saying that… Griezman is the one that starts ahead of him because of the way Didier wants to play & Giroud is the best at what he does (hold up etc) and griezman (playing of the holder of the ball) is better that laca at what they do… So pls stop comparing laca to hfb!!!!!!!

Sir Henry Norris\'s Brown Envelope

That’s the kind of goal I am expecting from Iwobi. Power, elegance, style. I think he can be a beautiful artist on the pitch, a magnificent athlete


Am I the only one who believes that Iwobi will make the kind of impact Rosicky would have made at Arsenal had he stayed fit? Iwobi has the potential to be the best player of the Premier League. BUT he needs to add a ruthless streak to his game. Really want him to surpass Dele Alli (who combines youth,skill to create great end products)



Stuck on repeat...

Ok…so I was wrong. I actually now like the blue strip. Humble appologies. Nice result to baptise the new colours too. Hopefully it will be a lucky charm for us this season.

Good goals, & bodes well for things to come 🙂


I hated it, until I saw it on the HFB, a bin bag would look good on him. it was a bit weird though supporting players in blue against the ones in red and white. Theo is doing a his best Mahrez impersonation so he can be like a new signing!

Original Paul

I looked in the football dictionary and next to “beautiful touch in and around the box” it just had 3 letters…


Sounds a bit naughty


Nelson and Kolasinac really impressed today but we looked dodgy at the back, hopefully we can fix that for the start of the season. The “front 3” impressed too, Walcott especially. Was interesting to see his interpretation of that role after being left out last season. He looked to play more as a second striker rather than a pure no.10 like Ozil, and you’d think that suits his skillset more. Good dribble from deep for Giroud’s goal as well. Having Iwobi-Giroud/Welbeck-Walcott as a second string to Alexis-Laca-Ozil ain’t bad at any rate.

Cultured Determination

yes, with ozil and iwobi being able to play behind the striker, alexis able to play as a striker or behind the striker, and having theo laca giround welbz, we have a total of 7 quality attackers. we should be able to play with 2 strikers in every game. this will give us more movement up top, with 1 of the strikers being able to drift wide or play slightly behind at will and interchangeably.


Elneny – full of energy, running, hustling.

I hope he gets more chances to impress like this.

Original Paul

So do I but the injury gods will make it so anyway… Coq going off injured before the season starts. ffs


Didn’t look too serious, did it?


He was able to run through their line to set up Theo, so I hope that indicates it wasn’t too bad. Probably precaution with the subs to keep as many healthy to start the season as possible.


Still think we need to strengthen central midfield.

Elneny is ok for utility (and against poorer opponents) but not good enough still.

Coquelin hopefully isn’t badly injured.

Ramsey and Granit are not the best at tackling.

We need someone who can hold the ball imperiously like Santi did for us.


Theo should have had four goals, I’m just hoping he builds on from the 19 goals of last season as it would be fair to expect around 15 in league and about 10 in and around the Europa League and cup competitions. As for Kolasinac, crossing was really impressive especially the way he could pick out players from midfield. He is not getting bullied, I’m only hoping that he shoots rockets for goals and rebounds for others. Solid. Nelson was really impressive, I mean it was unreal at times. Lost the ball at times, but showed fight and good technique.… Read more »


Benfica are no mugs. They have won their league the last few seasons and are in the champions league, they were not out there to make up the numbers…. They gave it a good go…..its just coming forward we blew them away with quick inter change play and direct long balls… They didn’t know if they were coming or going…. Some silly defensive play by us but we did look great going forward…


I’m upgrading my assessment of the away kit from shite, to okay. For some reason it just looks a lot better out on the field than it does being modelled.

Tasmanian Jesus

Ah Ben Yedder. I remember some people wanted us to get him last summer, over Lacazette and Vardy.
Now I would have him over Vardy, even tho I never saw him play…but definately not over Lacazette.


I thought kolasinac was very good and looks a fantastic signing. Still worried about our dodgy defence especially on the counter looked far too easily exposed.


Agree we looked dodgy defensively, but it was hardly a line-up we’re going to see very often. At least, I hope not.


Nelson looked very good, but again this is just a pre-season friendly against a Portuguese side that plays much differently from teams in the PL and other young players have looked very good in past Summers like Zelalem, the Jeff, Akpom and even Sanogo that have not panned out for the first team. I hope Nelson is different from those and actually can make a mark on the first team in the near future.


Remember a few years ago when Bellerin got a lovely assist from that right hand side against the same opposition and it didn’t turn out too badly for him that year. Nelson’s today was a whole new waft of exquisite.

Crash Fistfight

I thought Calum Chambers looked much more assured than Rob Holding did. Now, I’m not saying he’s better than Holding or he’s awesome or Holding’s rubbish. I just think people were very quick to write off Chambers and hail Holding as a defensive panacea.

I think Holding is very good, but I also think Chambers can be very good for us going forward, and I don’t think it makes sense to be looking to offload him (if the club even is) looking at the long term.

Danaery\'s pet dragon

It has to be a good day when our back up front three score 4/5.Lets see how the (almost) first choice front three perform tomorrow. Very good competition for places up top , and it’ll be the same for the back 5 spots. Hopefully someone else as well as El Neny will develop as a strong backup to Xhaka/Ramsey. I think that this is where any investment is most needed


I think right side of a back three could actually be the Goldilocks position for him.


Not sure why we’re open to selling Chambers either, a lot of potential and was impressive at Middlesborough by all accounts


I was initially not a fan of the blue jersey but I have to admit they looked good today.

John B Nuwagaba

I was impressed with Theo’s performance and I pray it doesn’t die out as the season lights up.
Let Sanchez respect Wenger and join his teammates with courage and total commitment, should Lemar and Mahrez join as management works hard with no serious and hurting departures, Arsenal will shine again.
Sanchez has to restore the champions league glory lost during his presence as a player.
Be blessed.



Alex james legend

Great 5th goal quick passing smashing finish from iwobi wan !

Paul vincent

Get a midfielder with size and power (Barkley))

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