Arsenal team: Martinez, Chambers (46), Mustafi, Medley(46), Monreal (46), Guendouzi (62), Burton (46), Martinelli, John-Jules (46), Nelson (81), Nketiah (62).
Subs: Macey, Sokratis (46), Thompson (46), Olayinka (81), Maitland-Niles (46), Xhaka (46), Mkhitaryan (62), Willock (46), Aubameyang (62).
Emi Martinez saved Jeff ‘The Jeff’ Reine-Adelaide’s spot-kick to hand Arsenal a 4-3 penalty shootout victory against Angers at the Stade Raymond Kopa.
Earlier, Reiss Nelson’s second half strike cancelled out the home side’s opener as the Gunners penultimate friendly, organised to celebrate the Ligue 1 side’s centenary, ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Our very young starting XI fell behind after 13 minutes when Farid El Melali collected a neat pass that sliced open our defence, took the ball around Martinez and rolled home into an empty net.
It took another 12 minutes for the Gunners to threaten and even then Nelson’s effort from the edge of the box scuffed wide without troubling the keeper.
The home side thought they’d doubled their lead on 38 minutes when a floated free-kick, awarded after Medley picked up a booking for a clumsy foul, was bundled home at the back post. The offside flag came to Arsenal’s rescue.
Moments later Martinelli’s flicked header from a great ball by Mustafi flashed just past the post. The Brazilian, who started on the right of the attack but switched to the left, was a bright spark in a very low-key opening period.
Unai Emery made five changes at the break, introducing Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dominic Thompson, Sokratis, Joe Willock and Granit Xhaka and within five minutes we found an equaliser.
Guendouzi, out on the right, found Nketiah with a bouncing cross and when the striker’s effort was blocked, Nelson slotted home the rebound with his left foot from seven yards.
nelson goal pic.twitter.com/6JauyfWiNM
— follow @afccomps (@NPepe7i) July 31, 2019
The Jeff, sold to Angers this time last year, made a couple of lung-busting runs that caught the eye but the game was mostly scrappy.
That said, the introduction of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan did inject a bit of urgency into our play going into the final thirty minutes.
First, the Gabon international had a goal ruled out for offside and with a couple of minutes remaining he missed a sitter having started a flowing move that ended with a Mkhitaryan shot being saved into his path. The striker’s first time effort flew over.
More worrying than our profligacy in attack was an injury to Nelson who collided with the Angers keeper and was left in a crumpled heap. He was substituted immediately.
Much to the surprise of everyone, there was a penalty shootout at full time. It went like this:
Maitland-Niles – goal (1-0)
Angers fella – goal (1-1)
Willock – goal (2-1)
Angers fella – goal (2-2)
Xhaka – goal (3-2)
Angers fella – goal (3-3)
Aubameyang – goal (4-3)
Angers fella – miss. HAHAHAHA, he hit it so far over the bar. (4-3)
Mkhitaryan – miss. BOOOOOO. He just booted it over like the guy before. (4-3)
The Jeff – Martinez saves. (4-3)
Arsenal win. Whoop.
The Gunners now have a couple of days back at London Colney before heading to Catalonia to take on Barcelona at Camp Nou.