There were fewer youngsters on show today as Arsenal missed out on winning the Emirates Cup as they lost 1-0 to Monaco.
Arsenal lacked some of the flair that was on display in their comprehensive win over Benfica yesterday, with a comparatively experienced side creating little in the way of clear-cut chances.
Monaco pounced upon some slack defending to score what proved to the only goal of the game, with Falcao finding the net in the 37th minute.
Things marginally improved for Arsene Wenger’s side after the interval, with Alexis Sanchez moving into the central-striker position, but Monaco proved to be a resilient unit.
Ignasi Miquel was introduced at the start of the second-half in place of Calum Chambers, but the Spaniard wasn’t especially impressive. He came close to scoring, as he did yesterday, but was also booked for a clumsy challenge and, despite his aerial presence, the 21 year old doesn’t seem a reliable option at the heart of the defence.
The decision to introduce Miquel was rendered all the more baffling by the fact that Isaac Hayden remained on the bench throughout. Hayden, who wasn’t even named in the squad yesterday, appears a considerably better prospect, although, for whatever reason, it seems that Miquel is still rated ahead of him for now.
There were late run-outs for Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem and both players made something of an impact during their short time on the field. Zelalem, evoking memories of his performances during last year’s Asia Tour, unlocked the Monaco defence with a precise pass. Akpom raced onto it and was brought down, apparently in the area, but a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the area instead.
Hector Bellerin, meanwhile, replaced Mathieu Debuchy for the final few seconds.
Arsenal squandered the opportunity and the result means that Valencia won the Emirates Cup. There were far fewer positives to take than there were from yesterday’s encounter, although, assessing the weekend as a whole, it was good for some of the youngsters to play in a first-team environment.
Now the decisions will have to be made regarding which of the prospects will be promoted to the senior squad for the new season. Martinez seems a certainty to be named as the third-choice goalkeeper, whilst Bellerin is looking increasingly likely to be installed as the second-choice right-back.
Miquel, on this evidence, is also in with a chance of promotion, even if his performances do not exactly merit such praise. As for Akpom, he has considerable promise, but needs to hone his talents via the medium of a loan spell.