Bukayo Saka scored an early goal to help Arsenal produce one of the close football scores of the weekend in a friendly. As he did at the end of last season, Bukayo Saka—who most recently scored a hat-trick for England—cut in from the right flank and finished with one of his trademark rockets into the far corner to give the Gunners an early lead. Having lost captain Martin Odegaard to a non-critical injury during the warm-up, Jakub Kiwior, Leandro Trossard, and Reiss Nelson teamed up brilliantly on the left as Arsenal confidently smashed the ball about. Saka came the closest to extending the lead with a shot from the edge of the box that keeper Christian Mathenia parried.
In what was an extremely comfortable first 45 minutes of preseason for the north London club, William Saliba, who missed the final 11 games of last season due to a back injury as Arsenal’s title charge stalled, was back in the center of Arteta’s defense alongside Gabriel Magalhaes. At halftime, Havertz made his debut as Arteta rang the changes. Prior to Folarin Balogun taking over for Leandro Trossard early in the second half, Kieran Tierney, Jorginho, Cedric Soares, Gabriel Jesus, and custodian Karl Hein had all been inserted.
Following superb work by Fabio Vieira, Jesus came close after being set up by Tierney’s long throw, but his shot drifted wide of the far post. Then, Cedric’s left-footed effort curled agonizingly wide of the upright. Balogun, who scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 for Reims last season, was the next to err as his shot from a close angle deflected against the post and Nurnberg survived as Arsenal’s opportunities mounted.
Just a few minutes later, Kanji Okunuki capitalized on Hein’s errant ball to Jorginho to punish Arsenal. The midfielder seemed to be first to the ball and scored as the hosts tied the score by scoring into an empty net. As long as replacements were taking place, both teams would continue to have opportunities. As Arsenal managed to escape, Ali Loune’s powerful long-range shot stung Hein’s hands before Christoph Daferner’s rebound clipped the crossbar.
Balogun, who ran behind the Nurnberg defense to latch onto Myles Lewis-Skelly’s pin-point through pass and take the ball around keeper Carl Klaus, gave the Gunners one final opportunity. The USA international had the goal at his mercy, but his shot went into the side netting, forcing Arteta’s team to settle for a draw.
“Yes, a lot of what I witnessed in the first half, particularly with the lads’ effort. They’ve only had three training sessions, so I needed to give them time and exposure so they could comprehend and reestablish relationships. The game degraded, notably in terms of quality and control, but we were aware of this development and have made some really fantastic modifications as a result,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said. “We played incredibly well in the first half, and I believe we could have scored more goals. Even in the second half, we missed some huge scoring opportunities. It happens in football, and mistakes happen in sports.”
“We must exercise caution since Leo Trossard and Martin Odegaard are having difficulties, and other players were identified as having problems over the previous week. We’ll go gradually because it’s still preseason and some of them have only attended two or three training sessions,” he added. “It’s terrific because that was the chance we wanted to give them; it may be challenging when there are so many changes and you’re not playing with the proper group of players, but I believe they performed incredibly well.”
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