Jeff Reine-Adelaide enhanced his growing reputation further still with an impressive performance today as Arsenal beat Wolfsburg 1-0 to win the Emirates Cup for the first time since 2010.
The French youngster, whose move from Lens was only formalised this month, created the game’s only goal with a precise pass for Theo Walcott and also produced some impressive glimpses of his technique.
Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden were introduced in the second-half, with the latter looking assured. Petr Cech, meanwhile, kept a clean sheet on his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt at Emirates Stadium.
Subs: Akpom, Giroud, Ramsey, Hayden, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not used: Martinez, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Debuchy, Coquelin, Iwobi.
Arsene Wenger made ten changes from the side that comfortably dispatched of Lyon yesterday, with Mesut Ozil the only player to retain his place in the starting line-up.
Arsenal, initially at least, struggled to perform at anything approaching the intensity of yesterday’s performance, but there were some encouraging signs from Reine-Adelaide early on, with the France U17 international doing very well to keep the ball under pressure.
Kevin De Bruyne was undoubtedly Wolfsburg’s star turn and the former Chelsea player was involved in most of the German side’s early moves. Firstly he saw his cross gathered by Cech, before former Arsenal scholar Nicklas Bendtner was unable to connect with a neat ball from his team-mate.
De Bruyne then sent a shot well over, with Christian Trasch then coming close to scoring from a corner. Arsenal then created their first chance of note, with Ozil unsurprisingly the architect. His neat pass found Walcott, but the England international was denied by Diego Benaglio.
Jack Wilshere, stationed on the right flank, then did well to find Reine-Adelaide, who forced a corner after once again demonstrating his impeccable close control.
Walcott then had the ball in the net following a neat move, but his strike was ruled out by the offside flag, with Bendtner subsequently seeing a weak shot gathered by Cech at the other end.
Wolfsburg were the dominant side in the first half, with Arsenal looking comparatively rusty, but the two teams went into the break goalless.
Akpom replaced Ozil at the start of the second period but it was soon Reine-Adelaide’s turn to take centre-stage as he prised open the Wolfsburg defence with a superb pass that found Walcott, who finished confidently to open the scoring.
Wenger’s plans for Reine-Adelaide this season are currently unclear but the youngster, who it mustn’t be forgotten is still eligible for the U18s, will have done his first-team chances no harm at all this weekend.
There was a moment of concern when Mikel Arteta lost the ball in midfield, but De Bruyne couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.
Reine-Adelaide then almost found Walcott again with another pass, but this time Benaglio was quick off his line to clear the danger.
Joshua Guilavogui’s shot was well saved by Cech, but the majority of the chances thereafter fell to Arsenal, with Akpom, Cazorla and Hayden all having opportunities.
Of all the youngsters who featured this weekend, Akpom will probably be the most disappointed with his performances, with the forward failing to play in Aaron Ramsey when well placed late on. However, this pre-season as a whole has still been a positive one for the England U20 international when his showing against a Singapore Select XI is taken into account.
Alex Iwobi didn’t feature today but was mightily impressive yesterday. It was also good to see Hayden back playing again, with the youngster enjoying an impressive cameo in midfield.
It is Reine-Adelaide, though, who emerges from the weekend with the most credit. The French youngster’s start to his Arsenal career has been hugely encouraging and it will be interesting to see how he is used throughout the campaign.
It is also worth considering the promising talents that weren’t involved this weekend. Wellington’s future remains uncertain, whilst Dan Crowley and Jon Toral could head out on loan at some point this season.
In all, it has been a hugely positive pre-season for Arsenal, especially when the performances of the young players are taken into consideration.