Arsenal overcame Colorado Rapids 3-0 in their opening senior pre-season friendly, with an extremely youthful team producing the goods.
Unai Emery opted to go with youth in Arsenal’s opening game, with Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers arguably the only two players to have spent any significant time on the pitch with the first team in the past.
The attacking quartet of Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka, Tyreece John-Jules and Gabriel Martinelli certainly lacked in experience, but their talent shone through in an excellent first game for the youngsters.
Saka started faster than anybody else on the pitch and quickly gave Arsenal the lead in the opening 15 minutes, after a lovely through ball by Nketiah.
James Olayinka doubled the lead with the goal of the game after making an interception and curling one in from outside the box, before Gabriel Martinelli made it 3-0 in the second half with a debut goal.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match:
- Matt Macey 6 – Didn’t really have too much to do, but made a couple of nice saves.
- Carl Jenkinson 6 – Jenkinson showed good energy and put a couple of half-decent crosses in.
- Calum Chambers 5 – Bar one misplaced short pass that showed he’s not quite up to speed just yet, Chambers did well enough captaining the side. He and Medley will be a little disappointed with how they dealt with counter-attacks though.
- Zech Medley 5 – As above, the centre-back partnership let through balls get players in behind a bit too often. Medley’s passing was very good though, as usual.
- Dominic Thompson 7 – Thompson’s defensive efforts were decent enough, but he shone going forward. His left-side link up with Saka was excellent and his assist for Martinelli was even more impressive.
- James Olayinka 7.5 – Olayinka scored a fantastic individual goal, and he appeared to step his game up from his recent u23 appearances. The 18-year-old passed well and ironically showed more physical presence than he has at times in youth football.
- Robbie Burton 7 – Burton had a lot of time on the ball and controlled the game well. He created space for himself and passed intelligently, though he did get a little lucky on one occasion taking an extra touch in the box and almost conceding a penalty.
- Tyreece John-Jules 8 – John-Jules may not have been involved in any of the goals or assists, but he facilitated many of the moves that led to Arsenal’s best chances. Unlucky not to score himself.
- Gabriel Martinelli 8 – Martinelli missed a good early chance with his first touch but bounced back for an impressive debut. He pressed Colorado excellently and scored an inventive and intentional debut goal with his shoulder.
- Bukayo Saka 9 – Saka was the star on the night, with his pace and dribbling causing big problems for Arsenal’s opposition. If anything, he scored his early goal a little too confidently. The winger surely has a part to play for the first team this season.
- Eddie Nketiah 8.5 – Nketiah’s performance has been underrated somewhat, as he was the driving force behind many Arsenal attacks and was very unlucky to end up with just one assist. A number of good blocks and saves kept him from a goal of his own, and his link-up play was excellent.
- Shkodran Mustafi 6 – Mustafi didn’t have too much to do, in all honesty.
- Joe Willock 7 – Willock was involved in some nice moves after coming on, and it’ll be no surprise to see him starting the next game against Bayern Munich.
- Sead Kolasinac 3 – It’s his first game of pre-season, so we shouldn’t judge too harshly, but this was a pretty awful cameo. Kolasinac passed the ball off the pitch multiple times and showed his frustration giving away a silly free-kick and earning a booking. He did put one good cross in for Lacazette.
- Alexandre Lacazette 5 – Lacazette only came on for a few minutes and looked eager to impress the fans, but he’ll be frustrated he didn’t score that chance created by Kolasinac.
- Mesut Özil 6 – Özil had a few good touches and passes in his 12 minutes on the pitch.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6 – Aubameyang looked lively, immediately stretching the Colorado defence with runs in behind after coming on. He missed an inviting volley right at the end.