Arsenal played their first friendly of pre-season against Ipswich Town on Saturday, thrashing the League One side 5-1.
Arsenal confirmed on Saturday afternoon that they’d played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Ipswich Town at London Colney.
The Gunners only welcomed their first team back to training earlier this week, and they’ll begin playing in front of crowds again next Friday in Germany, but they had one warm-up game on the training ground before that.
Given it’s still so early in pre-season, no one in the squad played a full 90 minutes. Instead, Arsenal named a first-half team and a second-half team, detailed below.
Arsenal lineup vs Ipswich Town
Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Ben White, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Thomas Partey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sambi Lokonga, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson
Arthur Okonkwo, Reuell Walters, Alex Kirk, Zach Awe, Lino Sousa, Matt Smith, Salah Oulad M’hand, Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, Folarin Balogun, Marcelo Flores
Jack Henry-Francis, Mazeed Ogungbo
Arsenal instantly took the lead through Eddie Nketiah, with the young striker celebrating his new contract with a goal in the first minute. Albert Sambi Lokonga set up the goal, intercepting the ball into Nketiah’s path.
Hector Bellerin, returning from his loan to Real Betis, had the next clear opening, placing a shot just wide with his left foot.
But it didn’t take long for the Gunners to double their lead. Injury-returner Thomas Partey played a wonderful through ball to Nketiah, who returned the favour to Lokonga by squaring a pass for a tap-in.
Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe combined for a decent chance around the half-hour mark, but it was Nketiah again who made it 3-0 minutes later.
Pepe raced down the right-hand side and played Ainsley Maitland-Niles in on goal. Maitland-Niles’ effort deflected off a defender and was saved by the goalkeeper, but landed at Nketiah’s feet for a simple finish.
Nketiah then completed his hat-trick with the help of Partey and Lokonga once again. Another clever Partey through ball got Lokonga in behind, and the Belgian squared for Nketiah to finish from close range again.
In one half, Nketiah racked up three goals and an assist, whilst Lokonga managed a goal and two assists of his own. Certainly a strong start to pre-season for both.
Despite all the half-time changes, Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings after the break.
Matt Smith and Folarin Balogun, so prolific together at youth level, linked up for the first chance of the half, with Balogun’s shot comfortably saved.
Balogun went close again after good work from Marcelo Flores and Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand, but it was Smith who ended up assisting Balogun’s inevitable goal with an inch-perfect through ball and a clinical placed finish into the corner.
There was time for Ipswich to grab a consolation goal, with experienced Nigeria international Sone Aluko firing past Arthur Okonkwo, who had made a good save earlier in the half.
The game ended 5-1, a comfortable victory for Arsenal.
You can watch the highlights of the game here on Arsenal.com.
Arsenal head to Germany on Monday, ahead of their first public pre-season friendly on Friday. Arsenal face FC Nürnberg at the Max-Morlock-Stadion on July 8th, 16:30 BST.