Posted in Sports on 25. Jul, 2012
ROCK & ROLL MALAYSIA !
CREDIT & THANKS : Warren Robinson
CREDIT & THANKS : Atlastv9
Malaysia XI 1 Arsenal 2: Late show saves Gunners as pre-season gets off to slow start
Arsenal’s Asia Tour started with a late escape as two goals in three minutes by teenagers Thomas Eisfeld and Chuks Aneke beat a Malaysia XI.
The Gunners had gone behind in first-half stoppage time but former Borussia Dortmund man Eisfeld levelled in the 87th minute, soon after coming on, and England youth Aneke grabbed the winner with the help of a deflection, two minutes later.
Arsene Wenger will not be too troubled by the scrappy nature of the win. This was the first real game of pre-season and he has a young squad with him in Asia.
But the Frenchman would have hoped someone like Maraoune Chamakh might step forward to stake some sort of claim to replacing Robin van Persie, should the Dutchman leave as expected.
And it will have heightened his fears that his team may be ‘under-cooked’ when the Barclays Premier League kicks off against Sunderland in less than a month.
After this three-match tour, the Gunners have only one game arranged, away to Cologne, having lost a fixture in Nigeria.
It is not ideal, Wenger admits, but he is consoling himself with the knowledge that rivals will be behind with preparations due to Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games.
Without the dozen first-teamers still in London, the Arsenal boss started in KL’s Bukit Jalil stadium with Gervinho and Andre Santos either side of Marouane Chamakh.
Chamakh forced two first-half saves from Farizal Marlias while Santos and Gervinho enjoyed plenty of space and possession and regularly switched flanks.
Arsenal’s best chances of the opening period fell to Santos. The first, a neat link-up with Chamakh, produced a horrible finish, feebly rolled wide with the right foot. The Brazilian burst clear again, six minutes before the break, but was thwarted by Marlias. He gripped his hamstring immediately.
Arsenal laboured towards the end of the first half and Malaysia started to play with more adventure and confidence.
Vito Mannone saved from Safiq Bin Rahim and Safee Sali but was nowhere near a 30-yard screamer from Mohamad Azmi Muslim in stoppage time.
It was a strange scene as 25,000 fans, mostly wearing Arsenal shirts and waving red and white banners shrieked in delight.
Wenger changed all 10 outfield players for the second half, which meant appearances for young players like Nico Yennaris, Aneke and Benik Afobe.
Afobe had one terrific chance when he was clean through on goal only for the keeper to block, and one much harder opportunity, which he sliced wildly off target.
Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who only reported back for training last Thursday, also came on at the break for their first action since Euro 2012 and clearly found it heavy going in the heat and humidity.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started deep in central midfield and then moved forward, was soon caught in possession and another save by Mannone prevented Sali extending the lead for the Malaysia XI.
Walcott had spoken ahead of the game about his hopes for the future and his desire to win trophies.
‘The money in football is good but it’s not why I turned professional,’ said Walcott, who has less than a year left on his current deal at Arsenal and is yet to commit to a new one.
‘As a player you want to win titles, which we have not been doing but I believe we will soon. It is more important than anything else in football.
‘I hope to win as many titles as I want to be remembered after retirement. Furthermore, I want to show my children and grandchildren what a good player I was.
‘Arsenal are a club who provide opportunities to youngsters in the Premier League. I came up the same way. We have many more moving through the ranks and hopefully the young ones will provide more depth.
‘As for me, I want to build on my good outing from last season for Arsenal and England. Arsenal were unlucky not to do better but I think the club will be highly motivated to achieve something in the new season.’
Chelsea and Liverpool are among those interested in Walcott but Wenger remains keen to keep him despite Arsenal’s advanced negotiations with Malaga winger Santi Cazorla.
The 27-year-old Spain international was signed for £15million from Villarreal last summer but he was among some high-profile players not paid on time last season as Qatari-backed Malaga hit baffling financial problems.
Having finished fourth in La Liga, they are in the Champions League qualifiers but are locked in a desperate scramble to settle debts before the end of this month in order to avoid automatic relegation.
It has given Wenger the opportunity to bid for a player he has long admired and possibly upgrade quality in his wide positions, where he is certainly not short of quantity.
Having come on at half-time, Walcott lasted only 35 minutes before making way for Eisfeld, who made an instant impact, sweeping in a right-foot finish after good work on the right by Yennaris.
Then Aneke seized on a late chance to win the game for Arsenal, who now head to China to play Manchester City.
CREDIT & THANKS : dailymail