Result: Hibernian 2-1 Arsenal
Date: 13 July 2021
Venue: Easter Road
Arsenal lineup: Okonkwo (Hein, 46), Cédric (Bellerin), Clarke (Rekik, 46), Mari, Kolasinac (Hutchinson, 80), Nelson (Partey), Elneny (Henry-Francis, 75), Maitland-Niles (Smith Rowe, 46), Willian (Pepe, 46), Nketiah (Lacazette, 46), Aubameyang (Balogun, 46)
Arsenal’s first game of pre-season ended in a 2-1 defeat as Hibernian made Mikel Arteta’s side pay for 90 minutes of poor finishing.
The Gunners should have taken an early lead when Eddie Nketiah, following a defensive error, went through on goal one-on-one. He passed his effort wide of the post.
The hosts were more decisive. When Arthur Okonkwo, on his first team debut, made a hash of clearing a back pass, Martin Boyle couldn’t miss. He looked almost apologetic as he slotted into an empty net.
Steven Bradley might have doubled the lead but his low left-foot effort came back off the post.
A scrappy first half was pockmarked by a couple of late challenges that raised eyebrows. Cedric, who looked very rusty, went through the back of the man he was marking and Auba took a heavy challenge on the ankles from Ryan Porteous.
Pepe, one of a raft of half time changes, almost made an immediate impact with a free-kick that forced a smart save. The Ivorian came close eight minutes later with another left-foot curler that just deflected wide.
The Gunners continued to up the pressure. In the space of five minutes, Balogun snatched at an effort, Partey cracked the post with a free-kick and Smith Rowe went through on goal only to be closed down.
In typical fashion, Hibs went up the other end and doubled their lead. The Gunners didn’t deal with a corner to the back post and a header across goal was met on the line by Daniel Mackay. Had VAR been on hand, it would have ruled offside.
Pepe had the chance to reduce the deficit when he won a penalty but his effort was saved; not a great week for Arsenal penalty takers.
A goal finally came with nine minutes remaining when Smith Rowe tucked home Bellerin’s cross but it wasn’t enough to avoid defeat.
While you’d usually expect Arsenal to win a game like this, there’s no point reading too much into the scoreline. Two days of star jumps and they go again against Rangers.