The Wanderers first major pre-season circus event ended with a dominant Arsenal scoring 3 goals against an spirited but outclassed Wanderers team at Homebush tonight.
Western Sydney managed to get through half an hour without punishment. On 15th minutes Steven Lustica had a chance to play through Jumpei on goal but his killer ball was blocked by an Arsenal defender. Jacob Melling was involved in set to with Xhaka & Olivier Giroud's fancy haircut, but despite the Wanderers winning a foul it seemed to fire up the Arsenal team and they took revenge shortly. After half an hour Arsenal opened the scoring, with Monreal breaking down the left wing, playing a one-two with new Arsenal signing Lacazette, who cut back the ball to Giroud to finish with a neat pass from close range.
The Wanderers defence was caught square just 5 minutes later, as the Arsenal defence smashed a long ball over the top of Brendan Hamill, he was left in the dust by Aaron Ramsey, and his chip left Vedran Janjetovic with no hope at all of making a save.
Right before half-time it was 3-0 with Mohamed Elneny striking from long distance and being helped by a deflection off Hamill.
The Wanderers came out with renewed spirit in the second half, and took the game to Arsenal. They were rewarded in the 56th minute. Following some intense presure in the box, Jack Clisby fired in one of his trademark "shoot at hit the crossbar" strikes from outside the area, Arsenal failed to clear the ball, and were pinged for an intentional backpass to the goalkeeper. With the Arsenal team camped on the goal line, Lustica fired, hit the wall, then pounced on the rebound to shoot the ball into the roof of the net for a 3-1 scoreline.
Arsenal looked nearly certain to score a fourth, but they were held at bay with the help of the woodwork and scrambling defence from the Wanderers.
The 3-1 scoreline reflected the ebb & flow of the game well enough. Roly Bonevacia did well, particularly in the second half, and new marquee striker Oriol Riera did well enough with his limited game time. Unfortunately, neither Brendan Hamill or Jumpei Kusukami made any positive impact for the Wanderers, Hamill being part of all three Arsenal goals, and Jumpei rotating between invisibility, and being monstered off the ball by his midfield markers.
At the end of the day these matches are less about winning & losing than they are about helping to gain match fitness and regularity with the tactics involved, and on the whole it appears for the Wanderers they achieved what would have been expected of them. The pre-season will continue as we all head towards the FFA Cup and the opening rounds of the A-League.