Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Burton, Olayinka, Saka, Nelson, Nketiah
Arsenal continued pre-season with a win, running out 3-0 victors over Fiorentina at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On a sweltering day, Unai Emery gave starts to some young players, including a midfield duo yet to play a competitive game for the club, and a front three of Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, and Eddie Nketiah.
A 7th minute cross shot from Kolasinac almost Nketiah in the six yard box but a defender’s touch took it away from the striker, while a 10th minute header from Saponara should have troubled Emi Martinez but the attempt was weak.
Vlahovic capitalised on a Mustafi error to test Martinez, the keeper made a good save and before the Italians could poke home the rebound Kolasinac put it out for a corner. There was another chance from the corner which was spurned, and then Arsenal made them pay for their misses by scoring the first goal.
Strong work from Saka on the left allowed Kolasinac to pick the ball up, he crossed for Nketiah who took a touch, turned the defender and rifled the ball home to make it 1-0.
An Olayinka shot fizzed wide of the wide, Sottil fired wide for Fiorentina, before Nelson had the chance to play Jenkinson through on goal on the overlap but the pass was poor. It was a slow paced game because of the heat, but Mustafi did his best to provide some excitement by letting Vlahovic have as much space as he liked.
Nketiah proved effective at the back as well as up front, heading a Ceccherini header away from underneath the crossbar in the 36th minute, Saponara picked up a booking for a heavy challenge on Burton, and Sottil broke the offside trap to go through on goal but Martinez stood up well to make a fairly routine save.
Right at the end of the first half Vlahovic ran off Mustafi, poked the ball beyond Martinez but thankfully just wide of the post. It meant Unai Emery’s team took the 1-0 lead into the break.
Arsenal made two changes at the break with Bernd Leno replacing Martinez, while Alexandre Lacazette came on for Kolasinac as the system changed to a back four.
Vlahovic forced the German into action early in the second half, tipping a goal-bound shot over the bar, Nelson curled an effort straight at the keeper after making space for himself with a nice turn, before a bizarre moment when the Fiorentina keeper punched the ball away from outside the box, picking up a yellow card in the process. From inside the D, Lacazette curled a shot over the bar.
In the 62nd minute, Sokratis, Willock and Mkhitaryan came on for Chambers, Olayinka and Saka, and the Armenian almost immediately picked up a yellow card for a foul in midfield.
He was then involved in Arsenal’s second goal, assisted by some NFL style blocking by Carl Jenkinson. Mkhitaryan crossed for Lacazette, he played it outside to Nketiah who rolled it home for his second of the game, and despite Fiorentina’s fury the goal stood and it was 2-0.
Emery rang the changes with Ozil, Maitland-Niles, Medley, Martinelli, Thompson and Xhaka all making their entrance. Xhaka’s carelessness presented the Italians with a free kick from just outside the box but the wall did its job and the ball deflected away for a corner.
There was another chance for Fiorentina but the striker couldn’t make the right contact, while with two minutes left Martintelli raced through on goal but with just the keeper to beat put the ball wide.
Moments later though it was 3-0, selfless work from Lacazette set up Willock to score with his left foot, his fine form on this tour continuing.
In the end a good win and a fine day out for all the Arsenal fans who made the trip to Charlotte to see the Gunners do their stuff.