Arsenal’s friendly curtain raiser for the 2009/10 campaign transpired in familiar fashion at the Underhill stadium with a 2-2 draw which had all the Gunners’ unparalleled football, dramatic equalizers and defensive flaws.
But these games are meant for positives and promises only, and once the curtains were raised, two men were always going to be the center of attention.
Tom and Thom, injury survivor and latest signing, crafty winger and bullish defender, Rosicky and Vermaelen were in action.
The former lasted an impressive 46 minutes and handed over the captain’s armband to the latter who was the only one in a busy 21-man squad to play out the entire match.
But Rosicky was not the only injury return. William Gallas was also fit again, and made up the back four with the aforementioned Vermaelen, Johan Djourou and Mikael Silvestre.
Apart from the help of old hands in Arshavin and Rosicky, Arsenal’s attack – which had Wilshere, Randall, Frimpong and Sanchez Watt – was very much a Carling Cup set-up.
It is needless to say the opening minutes was partially Arsenal’s and as Rosicky exercised, Sanchez Watt and Arshavin made tries at goal.
That active duo did not surprise the over 5000 present when they combined to put Arsenal ahead on the stroke of halftime. Watt laid in a cross for a sprinting Arshavin who needed little effort to poke it home from point-blank range.
But two minutes later, Barnet pegged level.
And it was the same old story indeed as Arsenal failed to deal with Hart’s well-curled free kick on which Yakubu pounced and left Almunia beaten.
That was the last touch of the half and as expected, there was a host of changes after the interval. Ten youngsters were introduced and the notable faces were that of Vito Mannone, Jay Simpson, Francis Coquelin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Nacer Barazite.
Five minutes later, the last man mentioned would yet again wet the appetites of many Arsenal fans with another moment in this particular fixture.
The Dutch teen managed to find space in a very crowded penalty box and from a difficult angle, curled in a sensational strike.
And after his loan spell at Derby County, Nacer was definitely welcomed back now.
Arsenal were at top gear and might have ended the contest, but Barnet would secure only their third ever draw in this annual encounter.
Wenger’s men were left stranded in their own territory as Charles hit home a scrappy equalizer with seven minutes to go.
Emmanuel-Thomas did spurn a golden chance to restore Arsenal’s command before the final whistle went for a roar of cheers which greeted the return of Tomas Rosicky, and the many positives today.