Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arsenal Preseason Part 2, Emirates Cup & Eusibio Cup

Arsenal 2-2 Boca Juniors
There was a buzzing atmosphere at Emirates and a hint of Argentinean flair.  Boca legend Riquelme was on the pitch and the North London faithful were ready for a spectacle.  The match was an interesting blend of international styles and the new Arsenal squad was beginning to gel.  Continuing to impress his new club, Gervinho lifted an inspired cross to Robin van Persie.  With half an hour gone, the Dutchman did what he does best: put the ball in the net.  The Gunners were chomping at the bit and a before a minute of the second half had passed, Arsenal had scored again.  Ramsey benefited from a good 'play on' decision from the official and slammed home another preseason goal.  Arsenal were in the driver's seat but some sloppy defending coughed up a goal in the 68th minute.  More of the same allowed another Boca strike three minutes later and the two goal lead had suddenly evaporated.  Arsenal began the fight but the Boca Juniors finished it, the two sides settling for a draw.

Goals:  29 van Persie, 46 Ramsey, 68 Viatri, 71 Mouche
Arshavin sizes up a corner kick at Emirates

Arsenal 1-1 New York Red Bulls
Since the day the fixture was set, Arsenal fans young and old had been anticipating this game.  It was finally time for Thierry Henry's return to the home of Arsenal Football Club.  It was vintage Arsenal but of course vintage Henry, lighting up North London the way only he can.  The hosts struck first and it was van Persie in the 42nd minute with a picture perfect headed goal.  It seemed enough to secure the Emirates Cup and despite his best efforts, the former Arsenal skipper and his new side, the New York Red Bulls, were unable to find the scoresheet.  With only six minutes to play in regulation, Henry instigated trouble in the final third and the Arsenal defense conceded an own goal.  The Frenchman and his MLS companions lifted the trophy, having beaten PSG the day before.  The tournament aside, those in attendance were thrilled to have witnessed the legend's emotional return to the club he served so well.

Goals:  42 van Persie, 84 (og) Bartley

Benfica 2-1 Arsenal FC
Although billed as a friendly, the match immediately seemed anything but.  The Portuguese hosts were out for blood and sought to honor the football legend whose name (and presence) graced the cup.  Coming off a slow start, Van Persie led the Gunners to a lead in the 33rd minute with a deadly strike fed by the likes of Gael Clichy.  The goal would be a late birthday present for the Arsenal man turning 28.  Significant changes were made by both teams at the break, Benfica gaining an edge with more experience on the field.  That experience would produce a goal four minutes from the restart and the game winning goal on the hour.  Arsenal were disappointed to have tarnished an unbeaten preseason, but now must focus on the task at hand as they prepare to face Newcastle United at St. James in under a week's time. 

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