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Arshavin Wins It For Arsenal… Twice! (Highlights)
A brace from Andrei Arshavin saw him give Arsenal the lead twice in the last four minutes of the match, the second time for good as Arsenal beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in their Emirates Cup opener.
Arsenal looked a bit tired in the first half, as you would expect following a grueling training schedule and the trip to Austria. A lone bright spot was Tomas Rosicky, who looked enthusiastic and energetic. He had a goal called back for offside after he made a smooth turn of the defender and curled it into the upper right corner. His performance in the first half is just more encouraging grist for the Rosicky injury mill.
I also feel I have to mention the very suspect performance of the young goalkeeper, Vito Mannone. Besides the spilled shots, including one which almost rolled in the net, he made questionable decisions and bad executions throughout the match. I wouldn’t pass a final judgment on Mannone on the basis of a preseason match but he now has his work cut out for him in trying to show that it was just a fluke of a howler on his part.
The second half, like against Hannover 96, looked a completely different match from the first half. Gael Clichy, Fran Merida, and, most importantly, Jack Wilshere, Sky’s Man of the Match, came on after the break and made an immediate impact. Wilshere turned in a performance that was light years beyond his age. After the match, Arsene Wenger praised the youngster and noted how he seemed to be much stronger than last year. As one commentator rightly noted, all that was good about Arsenal in the second half came from Jack Wilshere. If the bringing on of Wilshere at half-time changed the match, the introductions of Fabregas, Arshavin, and Eduardo in the 67th minute turned it.
For the first goal, Eduardo, alone up top in the middle of two defenders, flicked a long ball on to himself and then led Fabregas inside the box. Cesc then launched a deft pass to the far post with his left foot where Arshavin was waiting. But almost immediately, Atletico equalized off a defensive error as German Pacheco was able to break Arsenal’s high and square line.
However, Arsenal took the lead again for good just two minutes later and it came from Arshavin alone… he took a misheaded back pass and, in a move reminiscent of a famous Thierry Henry goal, toe-poked it past the charging keeper and darted after the ball which was rolling quickly towards the end line. Somehow, he caught up to it and slid for it just in time and, from an impossible angle, lifted the ball up, around the post, and over the line.
Arsenal will now play Glasgow Rangers today at 16:15 in what is, effectively, the Emirates Cup Final following their 1-nil victory over Paris St. Germain in the earlier match.