Eighty thousand fans turned out to watch the visiting Arsenal team take on A-League champion Sydney FC at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Thursday night. It could be said the 2-0 scoreline in Arsenal’s favour flattered the A-League champions as the Gunners amassed 17 shots to Sydney’s four, ensuring Sydney FC keeper Andrew Redmayne was the busiest player on the field.
Arsenal got off to a quick start with skipper Per Meresacker opening the scoring in the fifth minute after turning in a corner with his back to goal. The Gunners had to wait almost another 80 minutes before finding the back of the net again when new French signing Alexandre Lacazette celebrated his debut goal for the club following some good work out wide from another sub Alex Iwobi. In between there were numerous shots on goal, some blocked by defenders, others saved by keeper Redmayne (including a Danny Welbeck spot kick), another which hit the post and others which missed the target altogether.
The difference between the two teams, apart from the gulf in individual technique, was in how each team played in the attacking third. Arsenal was able to maintain possession a lot longer and to greater effect in the final third. Winger Reiss Nelson proved very difficult for Sydney to control while German international Mesut Ozil was the instigator of many openings for Arsenal.
Sydney FC managed to test substitute keeper Martinez with a couple of shots on target in the second half but overall the EPL giant looked very comfortable all over the park.
The Gunners now prepare for their second Sydney match, a meeting with Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney today. In anticipation of another big spectator turnout and a worldwide coverage of the match, WSW has warned its active supporter group that any antisocial behaviour won’t be tolerated. In a letter to club members, WSW Ceo John Tsatsimas put the club’s controversial active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc, on notice, warning that the club will shut down the group’s reserved area if there is any sign of crowd trouble from the group during Saturday’s friendly with Arsenal.