Result: Rangers 2-2 Arsenal
Date: 17 July 2021
Arsenal lineup: Okonkwo (Hein, 46), Cedric (Bellerin, 46), Holding (Kolasinac, 62), Pablo Mari (Chambers, 46), Tavares (Tierney, 46), Elneny (Willock, 62), Partey (Maitland-Niles, 62), Smith Rowe (Willian, 62), Pepe (Nelson, 62), Balogun (Lacazette, 46), Aubameyang (Nketiah, 62)
Eddie Nketiah scored a late equaliser as Arsenal drew 2-2 with Rangers at Ibrox on an afternoon when debutant Nuno Tavares was also on the scoresheet.
Arsenal picked up where they left off at Easter Road on Tuesday by conceding a sloppy goal and missing a host of chances. The difference this time was that recently recruited Nuno Tavares ensured we were level at the break.
The Gunners fell behind on 14 minutes when Leon Balogun, no relation to our striker, climbed high in the box after escaping marker Elneny to head past Okonkwo. It was the only chance of note the home side created in the opening 45 minutes and they took it.
After that, Arsenal dominated and really should have bagged a few goals.
If we’re hoping for a sharper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the upcoming season, this wasn’t a great audition. The captain missed a hat-trick of golden opportunities in the first half.
First, he curled over after pouncing on a loose ball by keeper McGregor, then he headed a Cedric cross wide. Finally, after Emile Smith Rowe had his shot blocked, the striker failed to convert from three yards as his tap-in was cleared off the line.
Other opportunities fell to Pepe, who curled over with his left foot, and Balogun, who had a toe-poked effort saved at close quarters.
At least Tavares had his wits about him in the box. Chasing down a long diagonal ball, the left-back took advantage of a bad touch by Tavernier before finding the bottom corner with a smart right-foot finish. There was a hint of handball in the build-up but with no VAR in action, the goal stood.
As expected, Arteta made a host of changes at the break and then a second raft just past the hour mark.
In between, Partey tested McGregor with a stinging effort from the edge of the box, and the veteran keeper, a former teammate of Arteta’s, also denied Smith Rowe with a fantastic stop at full stretch as the midfielder tried a curler.
Despite long periods of possession, Arteta’s boys didn’t have it all their own way. Lundstrom failed to keep a header down following another dangerous Tavernier set-piece and Bassey hit over after cutting in from the left flank.
The Gunners didn’t heed the warning and with 15 minutes remaining Rangers scored their second from another corner. This time Itten climbed highest to plant the ball in the net.
Had Hein not made a decent stop to deny Kelly moments later, it might have been even worse. The Estonian’s save served as a kick up the arse for the Gunners and not long after Nketiah made a goal for himself by stealing the ball in the box before arrowing home with his left foot.
Bellerin, Kolasinac and Willian all had chances to grab a late winner but their finishing was in keeping with the theme of the match.