Arsenal kicked off their pre-season tour with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium in Australia, thanks to a Per Mertesacker goal and a strike from club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette on his debut. Arsene Wenger’s side took just four minutes to open the scoring, with Mertesacker hooking the ball home from close range with his back to goal from a Mesut Ozil corner. The Gunners t...
Arsenal kicked off their pre-season tour with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium in Australia, thanks to a Per Mertesacker goal and a strike from club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette on his debut.
Arsene Wenger’s side took just four minutes to open the scoring, with Mertesacker hooking the ball home from close range with his back to goal from a Mesut Ozil corner.
The Gunners then dominated the rest of the first half but struggled to find a way past Andrew Redmayne, as the Sydney goalkeeper made a host of saves to deny the visitors.
Danny Welbeck ought to have doubled the lead after the break but saw his penalty saved, before Lacazette was introduced with 20 minutes to go.
The new signing did not disappoint, either, sweeping home Alex Iwobi's low cross with a clinical finish to secure the victory.
Arsene Wenger began the game with Lacazette on the bench, but he did hand a first start to Sead Kolasinac as part of a three-man backline alongside Per Mertesacker and Krystian Bielik.
There were also senior debuts for three youngsters, with Cohen Bramall, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock all in the lineup alongside the more experienced Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal also used the game as a chance to show off their newly released third kit, which did not go down too well with football.london’s Charles Watts:
It was a bright start from Arsenal, who took less than four minutes to open the scoring. Captain Mertesacker fired home from close range after the hosts failed to clear an Ozil corner.
The goal was a fine finish from the defender, who flicked home with his back to goal, although what followed did not impress Mike Keegan at Mail Sport:
Arsenal continued to dominate the early exchanges, closing down quickly and looking bright in attack, despite it being only their first match of pre-season.
Nelson, in particular, was a real bright point for the Gunners, with James Benge of Standard Sport expecting him to be given plenty of chances to impress in the first-team next season:
The chances continued to fall to Arsenal as they dominated the first half, with Welbeck seeing a shot blocked and Walcott firing straight at Redmayne at his near post when he might have been better going across the goal.
However, Sydney almost managed to find the back of the net on their first attack of the game. Josh Brillante broke clear down the right and swept past Mertesacker before forcing a diving Petr Cech into a good save. Simon was there to follow up at the back post but could only manage to put the ball into the side-netting.
With minutes to go before half-time, Arsenal almost doubled their lead. Joe Willock broke through with a superb run before being denied by Redmayne.
Arsenal ought to have doubled their lead early in the second half after Seb Ryall was penalised for handball, although the ball appeared to have hit his back.
Up stepped Welbeck, but he could not beat Redmayne, who dived smartly to his right to keep his effort out.
The Arsenal fans were then treated to the moment most had been waiting for: the introduction of Lacazette. The French international arrived amid a raft of 10 outfield changes.
However, it was youngster Edward Nketiah who went closer initially in the closing stages, clipping the post with a decent effort inside the box.
Lacazette was not to be denied, however, and with seven minutes to go, he timed his run perfectly to connect with Iwobi's cross and side-foot home to double Arsenal's lead.
It was an instant impact from the substitute, as noted by ESPN FC's Mattias Karen:
The goal wrapped up a fine night's work for Arsenal, with youngsters Nelson, Bramall and Willock all impressing. So too did Lacazette, who played as a second striker behind Olivier Giroud, dropping deep but also managing to open his account with a smart run and strike.