Kai Havertz made his Arsenal debut but it was not a winning start for the former Chelsea star as Mikel Arteta’s side were held to a 1-1 draw against Nurnberg in Germany.
The Gunners made a fast start as Bukayo Saka, who scored a hat-trick for England in his last outing, picked up where he left off at the end of last season, cutting in from the right flank before striking a trademark finish into the far corner.
Arsenal, who lost captain Martin Odegaard to a slight knock in the warm-up, were knocking the ball around with confidence as Jakub Kiwior, Leandro Trossard and Reiss Nelson combined to good effect on the left.
However, it was Saka who went closest to doubling the lead with his shot from the edge of the box parried by goalkeeper Christian Mathenia.
William Saliba, who missed the final 11 games of last season with a back injury as Arsenal’s title charge faltered, returned to the heart of Arteta’s defence alongside Gabriel Magalhaes and they were rarely tested in what was an extremely comfortable opening 45 minutes of pre-season for the north London club.
Arteta rung the changes at the break as Havertz came on for his debut. Gabriel Jesus, Kieran Tierney, Jorginho, Cedric Soares and goalkeeper Karl Hein were also introduced before Folarin Balogun replaced Leandro Trossard early in the second half.
We will see. We have to see how he adapts and obviously get to know each other and build relationships. Football is about that and time will tell where he fits in best.
Jesus went close when released by Tierney’s long throw, but his shot drifted wide of the far post before Cedric’s left-footed strike curled agonisingly wide of the upright after good play from Fabio Vieira.
The chances were racking up for Arsenal and Balogun, who scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 for Reims last season, was next to fluff his lines as his strike from a tight angle rebounded off the post as Nurnberg survived.
Arsenal team news…
- Arsenal’s first half XI: Team to face Nurnberg: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Partey, Vieira, Trossard, Saka, Nketiah, Nelson.
- Arsenal’s second half XI: Hein, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Jorginho, Vieira, Havertz, Jesus, Nketiah, Trossard.
They made Arsenal pay just minutes later as Kanji Okunuki pounced on Hein’s sloppy pass to Jorginho. The midfielder looked to be first to the ball, converting it into the back of the empty net as the hosts got back on level terms.
The chances continued to come for both sides as substitutions continued to disrupt the flow of the game. Ali Loune’s powerful long-ranger effort stung the palms of Hein before Christoph Daferner’s rebound clipped the crossbar as Arsenal survived.
The Gunners created one final chance as Balogun raced in behind the Nurnberg defence to latch onto Myles Lewis-Skelly’s inch-perfect through ball before taking the ball around goalkeeper Carl Klaus. However, with the goal at his mercy the USA international’s strike nestled into the side netting as Arteta’s men were forced to settle for the draw.
‘We could have scored more goals’
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta:
On if he got what he wanted to see from the game…
“Yes, many of the things that I saw in the first half and especially with the effort of the boys. They have only had three training sessions, so I had to give them minutes and exposure for them to understand and start connecting with each other again. I’ve seen some really good changes with the amount of changes we have made and that is why the game declined, especially in quality and in control, but we knew that was going to happen.
On the chances his side created…
“The way we played in the first half was really good and I think we could have scored more goals, even in the second half we had some big, big chances to score and we didn’t. It’s part of football, and mistakes are part of the sport.”
On injuries in the camp…
“Martin [Odegaard] and Leo [Trossard] are struggling and we had other players with issues picked up in the week so we have to be cautious. It’s pre-season and some of them have only had two or three training sessions, so we’ll take it step by step.”
On giving chances to academy players…
“It’s great as that was the opportunity that we wanted to give to them, as with the amount of changes and not playing in the right environment with other players as well is difficult, but I think they did really well.”
What’s next for Arsenal?
The Gunners head to America on Sunday with their first game on July 20 against the MLS All-Stars at Audi Field; kick-off 4.30am.
Arsenal’s pre-season schedule…
- July 8: Arsenal 1-1 Watford
- July 13: FC Nurnberg 1-1 Arsenal
- July 20: MLS All-Stars vs Arsenal, kick-off 4.30am (Audi Field, USA)
- July 22: Man Utd vs Arsenal, kick-off 10pm (MetLife Stadium, USA)
- July 26: Barcelona vs Arsenal, kick-off 10pm (Sofi Stadium, USA)
- August 2: Arsenal vs Monaco – kick-off 6pm (Emirates Stadium)
- August 6: Arsenal vs Man City – kick-off 4pm (Wembley) FA Community Shield
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