Arsenal ended its pre-season campaign for the 2009-10 season with a 2-0 loss to Valencia at the Mestalla on Saturday night, with Michel and David Villa netting second-half goals to lead the home side to victory.
The defeat is the sole loss during the Gunners’ matches this summer, which saw Arsenal capture the Emirates Cup a week ago in impressive fashion.
But yesterday’s performance was far from impressive, with Arsenal unable to get into its flowing, passing game during the first half. The Gunners again lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Robin van Persie playing center forward and flanked by Nicklas Bendtner on the right and Andrey Arshavin on the left.
There were a few chances on goal for both sides in the opening 45 minutes, but things livened up after the break, with Arsenal dominating play in the first ten to 15 minutes of half two.
Player changes at the half saw manager Arsene Wenger bring on a number of players, with substitute forwards Eduardo and Theo Walcott denied goalscoring opportunities early. Other changes saw Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Bacary Sagna, Armand Traore and Mikael Silvestere come on for the likes of Arshavin, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue, Gael Clichy and William Gallas.
But while the Gunners looked more likely to score early in the second half, Valencia soon began looking dangerous themselves, with Villa, Ever Banega and David Silva influencing play.
With Arsenal on the back foot, Valencia was soon awarded a penalty kick when Michel was tackled by Silvestre in the box. Lukasz Fabianski — like Walcott seeing his first preseason action as a second-half sub — then made a fine save on Villa’s spot kick to keep the match scoreless.
But the home side did score in minute 74. After Joaquin sent in a free kick from the right, the rebound of a Villa shot fell to Michel, who fired one through a crowded area to give Valencia the lead.
A somewhat deflated Arsenal team made a few forays forward in hopes of a equalizer in the closing minutes, only for Villa to slot a ball home from a tight angle in the 90th to make the final score 2-0 to Valencia.
Elswhere, it seems England’s national team manager Fabio Capello believes Jack Wilshere might be a possibility to make his World Cup roster next summer.
The 17-year-old Arsenal midfielder caught Cappello’s eye with his performances during the Emirates Cup, scoring two goals against Rangers and being named “Man of the Match” both days.
“He surprised me. Really. I saw him last year two times because he played in the Carling Cup and he has improved a lot now,” said Cappello of Wilshere (in an online article on ESPN’s soccernet.com).
“He plays without fear, with confidence. And the other players passed the ball always to him. This is not normal to be so young and so good,” added the Italian.
“We have time before we have to decide if he will go to South Africa. It depends a lot on Arsene Wenger, if he will play him.”
Well, Wilshere wasn’t too impressive yesterday at Valencia, but the injuries to Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri might mean we do see more of young Jack in this first month of the season … a season which begins in less than a week.
Can you believe another Premiership season is upon us already?! Let’s Go Gunners!