Arsenal clinched their third Emirates Cup success in the tournament’s fourth edition, but there was no smile from Arsene Wenger at the final whistle as his boys made too much of a hard task of winning today.
The Gunners had been cruising at 3-0 for much of the second-half but their concentration dropped drastically in the final 20 minutes and Celtic took advantage to score twice.
And it could have been worse as only a string of stunning saves by Almunia denied the Scottish side an unlikely comeback which would have seen them snatch the Emirates Cup.
But Wenger’s men did hang on for victory and as far as preseason is concerned, it was not supposed to be flawless anyway.
Sometimes 3-0’s and 4-0’s can over-flatter, and therefore, for a better assessment of the team, matches like today’s can help preparations and modifications for a new season.
It took just three minutes for Arsenal to begin what promised to be a stroll as Carlos Vela guided the ball home off Walcott’s low cross to put the hosts ahead.
Typical Arsenal. They were in the mood and all over Celtic as they fetched a second goal. But unlike yesterday, it would arrive as on the stroke of halftime, Bacary Sagna unleashed something very rare.
Arsenal slowly worked a corner-kick and Rosicky rolled the ball for the French fullback. And without any thought, Sagna smashed the ball home from just outside the box with his left-foot. Rare indeed, because that was only Sagna’s second ever goal for Arsenal in any football match since netting his first with a header at Stamford Bridge just over two years ago.
It was still one-way traffic after the restart and on 51 minutes, Samir Nasri – just introduced along with Chamakh – added a third, side-footing home a pass from Walcott from about 10 yards out. And as you would expect, that was one of many times Arsenal terrorized Celtic’s territory.
The Gunners threatened the visitors’ goal numerous times, with Walcott profligate on a couple of occasions as substitute Arshavin provided some killer passes.
But with Arsenal’s generous defense, Celtic could always fancy a consolation goal…or two. Neil Lennon’s side had only begun alerting Almunia and Arsenal’s backline when a piece of inexperience from Jack Wilshere cost Arsenal a penalty.
The 18-year-old tried to pull off a trick in Arsenal’s area and as he tried to regain the ball, Wilshere was adjudged to have fouled the attacking Fortune. Georgios Samaras could only blast the resulting spot-kick into the stands, but moments later, the Arsenal defence was in sixes and sevens again and this time, Daryl Murphy made sure they paid as he fired the ball home from close-range.
With 18 minutes still left, 3-1 just could not be the final score. Arsenal could increase their tally and pride, or Celtic could stage some sort of comeback. And it was the latter which nearly happened as Ki Sung-Yueng beat a hapless Almunia – who had made a couple of outstanding saves moments earlier – with seven minutes left.
Almunia then had to come to the rescue again as Celtic fashioned another chance, but this was Arsenal’s day.
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