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MLS All-Stars vs Arsenal Match Analysis.

Monday 1st August 2016
Arsenal clinched a much-needed pre-season win against a star-studded MLS All-Stars team. Drogba inevitably came back to haunt Arsenal again but a Joel Campbell penalty and an 87th-minute winner from Chuba Akpom left the honours in the favour of Arsenal.

The young Nigerian forward came on late as a substitute and spoilt the party for the MLS All-Stars, stabbing in a drilled cross Nacho Monreal, just the kind of in the box instinct Arsenal need. Arsenal became the first London club to beat the MLS All-Stars after they won their previous 5 against London teams.

Arsenal lined up in a 4-2-3-1: Cech, Debuchy, Bielik, Holding, Gibbs, Elneny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ox, Campbell, Walcott.

MLS All-Stars line up: (4-2-3-1): Blake, Rosenberry, Ciman, Van Damme, Acosta, Pirlo, Beckerman, dos Santos, Kaka, Villa, Drogba.

1st half: Experience vs Youth.



An MLS All-Stars team filled with familiar faces and experience would prove to be a stern test for an Arsenal team mixed with youngsters and reserve players. Arsenal started nervously but quickly grew into the game. Despite having 52% possession Arsenal looked most dangerous on the counter. They transitioned with speed and minimal pass combos. An industrious pivot of  Coquelin and Elneny looked to break up play and facilitate the counter. Wilshere on paper played at 10 but found himself playing a lot closer to Elneny and Coquelin than the front three.
Arsenal's pacey front three put fear into the MLS defence who in response instructed their full-backs to stay back for the opening exchanges. Walcott as the striker of the team played on the shoulder of the MLS defence looking to get in behind at any opportunity. But his decision making was as dire as ever reinforcing Arsenal's urgent need for a new striker.

Arsenal initially took the lead in the 11th minute through a Joel  Campbell penalty that he earned after being brought down by All-Star defender Ciman. The Costa Rican looked energised and ready for a season of fighting for squad places. In spite of conceding a goal on the stroke of half-time Arsène will have took pleasure in new signing Rob Holding's performance. Holding looked assured and portrayed little nerves. Having an even younger centre back partner in Bielik, the two dealt with Chelsea legend efficiently, a man almost 20 years their senior. Rob played the whole 90 minutes and displayed great maturity, he stepped up out of the defensive line when needed, pressed and held when necessary. Most importantly to Wenger he seemed comfortable on the ball and wasn't scared to run with it.

2nd half: Tinkering, Tiredness and Granit Xhaka.



At half time Arsenal made several changes, on came Bellerin, Chambers, Iwobi, Xhaka, Monreal on for Debuchy, Bielik, Gibbs, Wilshere & Coquelin. Jeff, Zelalem, Willock made cameos later on.

The tempo of the game in the second half slowed down, the play was lacklustre as fatigue settled in. The play was slow even with the Gunners lining up in a more attacking fashion, Campbell pushed up at the start of the second half to join Walcott in the striking position, acting as a shadow striker.
Granit Xhaka made his debut for Arsenal coming on in the second half, the Swiss midfielder is a proven warrior and was visibly frustrated by the slow pace of the game. He tried to rally his teammates by pinging diagonals across the pitch in order to stretch the MLS defence.
Notable cameos came from Zelalem and  Monreal, Zelalem's brief cameo reminded Arsenal fans of his God-given ability.  He has always possessed great vision and passing technique but his time out on loan seems to have improved his positional awareness and speed of play, he's one step ahead of play now, anticipating his teammate's movements before they do. One more year on loan and I think he could be ready to take over from Santi. Nacho Monreal also looked impressive especially on the overlap, significantly creating more problems than Gibbs did in the first half, ultimately leading to Arsenal's winner by Akpom. Chuba despite playing for a few minutes provided Arsenal with an in and around the 6-yard box presence that they haven't had in years.

Overall, Wenger will be satisfied with his team's pre-season progress, with star players still yet to return, the squad looks healthy. Holding & Xhaka had very encouraging debuts that will leave Arsenal fans content and wanting more. Arsenal's American tour continues on Monday as they square off against Mexican side Chivas in Los Angeles.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 


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