Arsenal were in action in a behind closed doors friendly on Saturday afternoon after their Florida Cup trip was canceled for Covid related reasons.
Instead, the Gunners stayed at home and welcomed fellow London club Millwall to Colney on an overcast afternoon. Nicolas Pepe, Calum Chambers, Alexandre Lacazette and Folarin Balogun got the goals for the Gunners as they ran out 4-1 winners. We’ve written a match report below and rated all the Arsenal players below.
First-half XI & ratings
Arthur Okonkwo – 4
Calum Chambers – 8
Rob Holding – 6
Pablo Mari – 5
Kieran Tierney – 7
Thomas Partey – 9
Mohammed Elneny – 6
Nicolas Pepe – 9
Emile Smith Rowe – 8
Eddie Nketiah – 5
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6
First-half match report
Arsenal started strong and on the front foot. Physically they looked a lot stronger than in the first friendly against Hibernian, with Thomas Partey dictating the game at the heart of midfield.
The first major chance came in the 7th minute when Kieran Tierney got down the left-hand side and crossed for Eddie Nketiah who should’ve hit the target, but his header went over the target. Moments later the ball fell to Mohammed Elneny on the edge of the box following more good work from Tierney on the left, but the Egyptian missed the target.
In the 10th minute though Millwall had their first chance of the game and hit the post with Cooper’s head connecting with a crossed free-kick. This area will worry Mikel Arteta given how Rangers netted twice from set-pieces in Arsenal’s last friendly. Soon after this Millwall had another chance when Pablo Mari was dispossessed trying to play out from the back. Okonkwo did well to save the visitor’s shot on goal.
Five minutes later Arsenal got back control of the game. Thomas Partey had a sweet shot saved, before Pepe swung a cross into Aubameyang, who acrobatically hit the crossbar, with the ball rebounding back to Chambers who tapped it into an empty net. 1-0 Arsenal.
33 minutes in, some neat work from Nicolas Pepe on the right saw the Ivorian feed Emile Smith Rowe, who turned well on the edge of the box before forcing a good save from the Millwall keeper.
Arsenal controlled possession for the rest of the first half but they couldn’t covert any more chances. 1-0.
On at half time
Karl Hein (for Okonkwo) – 6
Albert Sambi Lokonga (for Elneny) – 7
Alexandre Lacazette (for Nketiah) – 7
Second half match report
Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe, the standout players in the first half, kicked off the second half in good style. The duo combined to carry the ball from Arsenal’s box to Millwall’s, before Pepe’s cross found Aubameyang, who could only fire over.
On the 60 minute mark, Chambers produced a great cross for Alexandre Lacazette who thumped his header into the back of the net, doubling Arsenal’s lead.
On at 60 minutes
Cedric Soares (for Mari – Chambers moved to CB) – 6
Nuno Tavares (for Tierney) – 6
Five minutes later, Emile Smith Rowe picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch, his penetrative pass found Aubameyang, Arsenal’s captain then slid the ball across the box and it found its way to Nicolas Pepe who shaped his finish into the net.
In the 70th minute Thomas Partey excellently shifted his body before floating a ball over the defence to Smith Rowe who saw his shot well saved.
On at 71 minutes
Folarin Balogun (for Aubameyang) – 7
Reiss Nelson (for Pepe) – 6
Willian (for Smith Rowe) – 7
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Partey) – 6
Soon after these subs, Willian drove at the Millwall defence and combined well with another sub, Balogun, who received the ball, rounded the keeper and tapped into an empty net. 4-0.
Millwall netted a late consolation goal in the 89th minute to see the game end 4-1 to the Gunners, their first win of pre-season.
Man of the match
Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe (9). Pepe took responsibility, was lively and strong in possession, made things happen and scored Arsenal’s third goal. He finished last season brilliantly and looks capable of carrying on that form. Partey was dominant in midfield, always passing forward, controlling the game and looking very sharp.