Chuba Akpom, Kristoffer Olsson and Thomas Eisfeld were amongst the scorers as the Arsenal first-team began their pre-season preparations with what turned into little more than a leisurely stroll against an Indonesian Dream Team this afternoon.
Ignasi Miquel, Gedion Zelalem, Chuks Aneke, Serge Gnabry and Damian Martinez also featured in the 7-0 victory, with goals from Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, in addition to a well taken brace from Olivier Giroud completing the scoring.
Akpom, on his first appearance for the senior side, was heavily involved from the offset, directing a shot across the face of goal in the opening minutes before Gnabry, who was lively throughout his time on the pitch, dribbled past several defenders prior to seeing his shot saved.
With 19 minutes gone Arsenal took a deserved lead with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doing well to seize possession before accelerating forwards and finding Theo Walcott who curled the ball calmly into the back of the net.
At that point the floodgates were expected to fly open, but it didn’t quite transpire like that as Arsenal squandered several good goalscoring opportunities. Kieran Gibbs, raiding forwards from left-back, was particularly guilty with one scuffed effort which struck the side-netting, whilst Akpom came close to turning home Walcott’s well-executed cross.
Akpom would eventually get his reward for his perseverance nine minutes after the re-start. The striker was heavily involved in the build-up of the goal as he expertly flicked the ball out wide towards Gnabry before positioning himself perfectly to turn home the German’s cross and double Arsenal’s advantage.
The goals began to fly in thereafter, with substitute Giroud twice finishing well from crosses from his compatriot Bacary Sagna before Podolski fired home emphatically having linked well with Tomas Rosicky.
Rosicky was also involved in Olsson’s goal, with the Czech Republic midfielder producing a delightful cross which the youngster was grateful to tap home, before Eisfeld, Arsenal’s player of the Asia Tour last season, also got in on the act.
Against this calibre of opposition the margin of victory was irrelevant, but it was still a valuable experience for the eight youngsters involved, even if Martinez and Aneke were posed few problems. The latter, seeking to impress following a successful loan spell at Crewe Alexandra last season, was deployed in an unfamiliar centre-back role, whilst Miquel spent time at both centre-back and left-back and, other than one moment of hesitation in the first-half, was largely composed.
It was the attack-minded players who made the biggest impact, however, with Olsson and Zelalem playing some sublime passes in midfield, whilst Akpom and Gnabry were also heavily involved in many of Arsenal’s attacking moves.
Not everything that Gnabry tried came off, but his directness provided Arsenal with a genuine outlet on the left flank, whilst Akpom, having been starved of scoring opportunities in the opening period, gratefully took the chance that came his way.
Zelalem, despite his frail physique, produced one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt to date, with the German youth international playing a superb pass to split the Indonesian defence.
There is, of course, a danger in praising the youngsters too much off the back of this performance considering the standard of opposition, but, in terms of staking their respective claims for a place in the squad next season, several of those involved today will no doubt have enhanced their chances of receiving game time during the forthcoming campaign.