FC Cologne Vs Arsenal: Gervinho Shines As Gunners Eke Out Victory
Arsenal continued their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win over German side FC Koln. New signing Gervinho got off to an excellent start for the Gunners, scoring both the goals with fine finishes. Carl Jenkinson scored a bizarre own goal at the strike of half time, reducing the deficit but ultimately not affecting the result.
Arsenal were fresh off their pre-season promotional campaign in Asia, where they had won 4-0 against Malaysia XI and drawn 1-1 against a feisty Hangzhou Greentown one week ago. The starting line-up put out by Arsene Wenger was a strong one- Wojciech Szczesny was in goal, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny formed the centre of defence, the full backs were Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson, the midfield triumvirate consisted of Jack Wilshere, Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey, and the trio up front were Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh and Theo Walcott.
FC Koln started well, and played at a pace unlike that for a pre-season friendly. They got a free-kick at the edge of the Arsenal box in the opening stages and sent it just over. Another opportunity presented itself in the form of a cut back that Koscielny hacked clear.
But then Arsenal got the ball and with what seemed to be their first attack, they scored. Wilshere had the ball in midfield and chipped it exquisitely for an onrushing Gervinho to lob into the net.
Koln stepped it up even further after the setback and got a chance to equalize almost immediately after, as Podolski jinxed his way through the Arsenal defence, before dragging the shot wide. And Arsenal proved to be as clinical as Koln were wasteful, with the Gunners going 2-0 ahead a few minutes later.
As an Arsenal tip-tap attack broke down at the edge of the box, Wilshere swept it across to Walcott on the right hand side. The Koln full back mistook the pace of the ball and left it to let Arsenal’s number fourteen in. Walcott looked up and squared it to Gervinho for a simple tap-in.
On thirty minutes, Gervinho came off for Japanese whiz kid Ryo Miyaichi, after an explosive cameo. Arsenal almost scored a third when Walcott lobbed it across goal, but it was cleared away after much confusion in the box.
And then it was Koln’s turn to pile on the chances. A wonderfully flowing move ended in a last-ditch block from Jenkinson to send it out for a corner. Moments later, Ramsey gave the ball straight to a Koln player deep in the Arsenal half, but the shot was expertly saved by Szczesny on to the post.
Just when it seemed that Arsenal had weathered the storm and would go into half time in a comfortable position, Car Jenkinson scored one of the most bizarre own goals football has seen as he sliced it from way outside the box, and it looped its way into the net after leaving Szczesny scrambling. 2-1 at half time, and it was anybody’s game.
The second half saw a host of changes from the Gunners. Vito Mannone, Sebastian Squillaci, Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky, Emmanuel Frimpong, Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Carlos Vela came on as virtually the entire starting eleven was changed.
The extent of substitutions told on the pace of the game and it became more staid as time went by. Rosicky started the half in venomous fashion, running tirelessly, putting in pin-point tackles and passing intelligently. Arshavin was lively in the opening stages as well, forcing a couple of saves from the keeper and producing a magical flick from a Frimpong pass which was swatted away by the keeper.
Lukas Podolski and Squillaci then had an acrimonious squaring off, headbutting each other lightly and gesticulating hot-headedly. From the resulting free-kick, Koln almost scored and only fantastic defending from Djourou prevented the equalizer. Another silky move from the Germans resulted in a tame shot straight into Mannone’s hands.
There were potshots from both sides, but the game was destined to fizzle out with an unchanged scoreline from the first half. It ended on a bit of a sour note however, with young defender Conor Henderson twisting his knee in an unpleasant manner. Arsene Wenger sounded worried about him in the post match press conference, and Arsenal fans will hope that injuries haven’t started blighting their season from now on itself.
All in all though, it was a good outing for the Gunners, who got another win under their belt and got an exciting first glimpse of new boy Gervinho. More things must surely be expected of him now.