You can hear my thoughts as I left the ground by clicking either of the links below, depending on which one actually works in your browser.
If neither work, try this.
In the end, it was an enjoyable night out – apart from the fact I managed to tumble down about three rows of seating when trying to make a quick escape by hopping over the man in front. If you saw a tall man in a blue hoodie go tumbling with kind of pirouettes and spins more commonly associated with a fouled Cristiano Ronaldo, then I confess that was me.
The spins and flicks from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were far more impressive. After a quiet first 45, he came to life in the second half, thumping home a crucial goal from range as well as terrorising the opposition full-back with some searing sprints to the byline. The difference between Chamberlain and Walcott could not be more clear: the newer addition is much more prepared to drift inside and get involved with build-up play, spraying thirty and forty yard passes effortlessly across the pitch. He’s far less reliant on pace, and possesses far greater technique. Undoubtedly, a huge prospect.
And yet, his Man of the Match award was possibly a little generous: across he ninety minutes, the performance of Francis Coquelin probably warranted recognition. Since arriving in 2008, the holding midfielder has always looked a neat tackler with tidy ball-skills. Yesterday, in a 4-4-2 formation alongside Emmanuel Frimpong, he demonstrated that some time playing at full-back and a spell on loan in Ligue 1 have seen him add power and energy to his game. Yesterday he charged from box-to-box, winning the ball back and using it simply and efficiently. It seems the Old Trafford mauling has not scarred him.
Honourable mentions also go to Kieran Gibbs and Yossi Benayoun, who grabbed their first Arsenal goals, and Ignasi Miquel, who looked far more assured than his experienced defensive partner, Johan Djourou. Lukasz Fabianski, too, won’t have worried compatriot Wojciech Szczesny with an unconvincing display.
Ryo Miyaichi got twenty minutes but didn’t have time to make a notable impression, whilst the game may well once be remembered for the Arsenal debut of the giant Chuks Aneke. Chuks is, in every sense, a huge star at U-18 and now Reserve level, with that exciting combination of technique and tallness that draws inevitable comparisons with Patrick Vieira. He’s more of an attacking player than the Frenchman, and an enormous prospect. He only got a few minutes in stoppage time last night, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we see him again before long.
Right, must dash. Tata for now.