Mesut makes it five
I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the football yesterday. I took my wife and two children to the game and we sat in Club Level for the afternoon, giving us a perfect view of the four first-half goals Arsenal served up. I said after the Everton game last week that it was only pre-season so we shouldn't get too excited just yet. The same thing applies after yesterday. But that shouldn't detract from the Arsenal performance against Lyon. Friendly or not they played with the sort of intensity and work ethic that was evident at Wembley back in May, and which must be carried in to the Charity Shield and Premier League season that lies ahead.
There was a scare or two early on but Emi Martinez had a fine game in goal for Arsenal, with Szczesny on his way out and Ospina not yet back in training (Petr Cech will play today against Wolfsburg). Once Arsenal got going it was a matter of time before we started to create properly. The impressive (again) Alex Iwobi passed up shooting opportunities, choosing to pass square, on a couple of occasions where a little more confidence might have seen us open the scoring. Mesut Ozil, meanwhile, wasn't so much pulling the strings as recording one of Mozart's symphonies from the number 10 position.
When we finally got a goal it was Ozil who provided the perfect free-kick for Olivier Giroud to find the corner of the net. Okay, it eventually went in off his shoulder, but the strength he showed to get away from defenders trying to rip his shirt off his back was impressive (Iwobi later had a goal disallowed for offside, but the referee had totally ignored the clear shirt-pulling on Giroud again as he set the youngster up). Ramsey then broke forward to put Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in for a superb finish to make it two-nil. When the third arrived a few minutes later it was a classic Arsenal move of one-touch football, expertly rounded off by Alex Iwobi's first goal in a senior Arsenal side. My youngest was getting quite the thrill from the quickfire goals and the noise that surrounded him (his previous visit was the 5-1 win over Benfica in this tournament last season so he's a bit of a lucky charm).
I want to make particular comment on the fourth goal as, if you've only seen it on TV, then you didn't get the full effect of Mesut Ozil's involvement. With the ball deep in the Arsenal midfield, to the left of centre, Ozil sprinted at least fifty yards from right to left, and in to the space for the through-ball, and took it beautifully. Honestly it was a truly sensational piece of play from the German who put in more effort yesterday than he did in 90% of his appearances last season. He then played the perfect pass for the flying Aaron Ramsey who provided one of his special finishes for four-nil. Lyon simply couldn't lay a glove on Ozil as he tore them apart. He was taking people on and closing people down and doing everything he did in the FA Cup Final. That he then topped it off with a goal of his own was just reward for his performance and it was a smashing finish too as he volleyed in to the far corner.
To their credit Arsenal didn't really stop playing and kept looking for goals. Chuba Akpom hit the post, and Theo Walcott missed a sitter just after Santi Cazorla took a lovely free-kick by sliding his shot under the wall which had jumped in anticipation of a chip in to the top corner. The six goals didn't flatter Arsenal at all and it all made for a glorious start to the home season. There was also a very interesting cameo from new signing Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Leaving aside the French pizza toppings in his surname, he looked a little out of place on the right-wing. However, when he came inside to get on the ball he looked a real talent. There was something of Vieira or Diaby in the way he moved with the ball at his feet and he certainly looks like he might be one to watch very soon indeed. What goes against him is that he has the entire Arsenal midfield ahead of him in the ranks just now!
So later today Arsenal take on Wolfsburg in the final game of the competition. They lost 2-1 to Villareal before the Arsenal match yesterday so need to recover some pride at least. They have some decent names in their side, including Schuurle and De Bruyne. Of course their most famous player , to Arsenal fans, is a certain Nicklas Bendtner. I was really pleased to see him get on the pitch yesterday and the ovation he got from the Arsenal supporters was an absolute joy for me, as someone who always sought to defend the misunderstood and badly used Dane. Super Nick also seemed a bit taken aback but he took the time to applaud the Arsenal support for their welcoming gesture and he will have won a few friends as a result. I suspect he might start against us today, and he will certainly be keen to get on the scoresheet. Arsenal will be much changed from yesterday, but if the attitude is similar then we should win our own trophy for the first time in a while.