Arsenal Kicks Off Barclays Asia Trophy In Style
The highly anticipated Barclays Asia Trophy match between Singapore Selection & Arsenal finally kicked off with much fanfare. Eventually, what looks like the second team of Arsenal’s was enough to entertain the near 30,000 fans
The highly anticipated Barclays Asia Trophy match between Singapore Selection & Arsenal finally kicked off with much fanfare. Eventually, what looks like the second team of Arsenal’s was enough to entertain the near 30,000 fans at the National Stadium. Big names such as Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud and newly-signed Goalkeeper, Petr Cech are nowhere to be found – not even on the bench.
Instead of pumping the balls straight into the attacking third half which they usually do, Singapore adopted a different approach against the mighty Gunners. Singapore took their time and built up the attack from the the back. Credits go to Sundram and Marko, the combination of Warriors’ Nicolas Velez (no-20), LionsXII’s Izzin Shahfiq (no-15), Shadan Sulaiman (no-8) and Khairul Amri (no-19) worked decently well. In fact, their effort did make the team from London worked extremely hard under the humid condition. Obviously, that could be something Arsene Wenger least expected.
Arsenal nearly open the account as early as the 4th minute when Madhu Mohana (no-6) had to clear the ball away to safety right in front of the goalmouth. Before Singapore had the chance to take a breather, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (no-15) attempted a shot from distance. Luckily, the ball went just wide.
Football fans did not have to wait long before the first goal celebration came. In the 29th minute, Shaiful Esah (no-3) failed to clear the ball away to safety, England u-20 Striker Chuba Akpom (no-32) took advantage of that mess and scored the first goal of the evening to give Arsenal the well-deserved lead! Singapore almost replied instantly but Bahaikki Khaizan (no-5)’s header missed the goal by inches.
Second half was a more heated encounter between the host and the record 12 times FA Cup winner. First big chance for the Gunners to extend their lead came in the 54th minute but kudos to Singapore’s defence, England Youth International’s Alex Iwobi (no-45) ballooned his shot with only Goalkeeper to beat.
Once again, Singapore’s defence showed great determination and discipline when Chamberlain saw his low shot got pass Singapore’s custodian, Izawan Mahbud (no-1) but the ball was cleared off the line by Madhu in the 58th minute. However, despite the courageous effort put in by the Singapore Selection team, the floodgate for Arsenal was finally opened a minute later.
Home United’s Sirina Camara (no-16) tripped Mathieu Debuchy (no-2) in the box when the latter launched a counter-attack run into Singapore’s goal. Referee, Jon Moss did not hesitate and blew for a penalty immediately. England International, Jack Wilshere (no-10) stepped up and extended the scoreline to 2-0 to Arsenal.
The entertaining match had been smooth and beautiful but the lack of goal from opening play seems to be the only disappointment. It did not help as another penalty was awarded to the visitor 15 minutes later. This time, Izwan chopped down newly substituted, Jon Toral (no-56) in the box and Akpom coolly slotted in Arsenal’s third of the evening.
Towards the lat 15 minute, Singapore Selection brought on Tampines Rovers’ Rodrigo Tosi (no-9) and JDT II’s Shahril Ishak (no-17), hoping to beef up Singapore’s attack for a consolation. Unfortunately, the impact of the duo were simply not significant as Arsenal’s continuous attack and search for the next goal intensified in Singapore’s half.
In the 79th minute, crowd-favorite Hector Bellerin (no-24) broke free on the right, delivered a cross for Akpom to head in his third, a hat-trick and Arsenal’s fourth of the evening! That goal summed up the humid evening.
The match ended in style with 4-0 victory to Arsenal but it was of no surprise to both teams and the football fans at the Stadium. Except perhaps the frequent water breaks during the game which we do not practice domestically. And there were no proper dug out/substitute bench for the players and officials.
In the earlier match, Everton edged out Stoke City 5-4 in the shootout as both sides finished the match in a goalless draw.