Arsenal registered their first victory of pre-season, with Chuba Akpom scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over MLS All-Stars.
Joel Campbell gave Arsenal an early lead from the penalty spot, but the Gunners’ old nemesis Didier Drogba pounced upon an error from Krystian Bielik to make it 1-1.
Akpom, however, was alert to finish from close range late on following good work from Chris Willock and Nacho Monreal as Arsenal’s preparations for the new campaign stepped up a gear.
Willock, one of several youngsters who played a part in the second-half, was particularly impressive, with the winger showcasing his excellent close control and his ability to take players on. The England youth international has also improved physically and should make his competitive debut for the Arsenal first-team at some point this season.
Akpom, meanwhile, will be delighted to have found the net again in a friendly, with the youngster enhancing his cause for first-team involvement, especially with Theo Walcott having again flattered to deceive.
As far as the club’s other youngsters are concerned, Zelalem, a United States youth international, was extremely composed on the ball and played some slick passes, whilst Reine-Adelaide, who has officially been promoted to the first-team squad, showed glimpses of his potential even if he did tend to overcomplicate play at times.
Bielik, meanwhile, may have made that aforementioned error, but that was out of keeping with the rest of the Poland youth international’s display in the first-half. Deployed at centre-back alongside new signing Rob Holding, Bielik read the game well and made some timely interventions. His mistake was seized upon, however, and the 18-year-old will have learnt a valuable lesson about the importance of concentration in first-team football.
Holding was impressive on his first outing for the Gunners, although Calum Chambers, who played alongside him in the second-half, looked out of sorts again.
Some of the senior players who featured caught the eye, including Granit Xhaka, who showcased his range of long and short passes. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell and Mohamed Elneny also impressed and at this point in time it would be difficult to predict Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up for the Liverpool game, with several players in contention for inclusion, particularly in midfield.
The likes of Willock, Akpom, Zelalem, Reine-Adelaide and Bielik, as well as Alex Iwobi, should have another opportunity to prove their credentials when Arsenal face Chivas in their next friendly.