St. Johnstone 0-3 AFC (Pre-Season Friendly)

New Arsenal manager Gray Surman took charge for their first pre-season friendly today at Scottish second-tier side St. Johnstone, and oversaw a comfortable win for his new side, giving run outs to 18 players including World Cup winners Rubén Pardo and Santi Cazorla, as well as new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic.

“Welcome to McDiarmid Park for Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly, and their first match under the management of Gray Surman. There’s no Wojciech Szczesny or Jos Verniers in the Arsenal squad as both recover from injuries picked-up late last season. The ten-man bench for AFC includes new signings Marko Obradovic and Julian Koch, who will surely play at least one half of today’s match here in Perth. Gökhan Inler has been handed the captain’s armband by Surman. Seven of the starting XI today started Arsenal’s final match of last season, a 2-2 draw at Stoke.”

[00] We’re under way!

[01] Early foul by Inler gives the hosts a freekick, but Corluka wins from the delivery forwards and clears.

[02] Caddis collects from Jacobs down St Johnstone’s left, and has a dig but it’s charged down by Corluka and played away.

[02] St. Johnstone 0-1 Arsenal: From one end to the other in a matter of seconds. Corluka collected the loose ball after he blocked Caddis’s shot, and played it ahead of him to Álvaro. He brought the ball forwards 50 yards before finding Pardo who slips it out wide to Corluka on the right. The cross comes in towards the penalty spot where Álvaro meets it on the half-volley and puts Arsenal ahead with 01:57 on the clock.

[06] Corner for Arsenal after attacking movement. Evans heads behind a cross from Corluka at the far post under pressure from Wilshere. St Johnstone captain Cregg’s touch on the delivery sends it into the path of Inler who snatches at a volley and sends it over the bar from fifteen yards.

[08] Wilshere’s deft touch flicks the ball on to Álvaro, but his shot from the edge of the box is blocked by Jacobs.

[11] Good work from Wilshere down Arsenal’s left as he gets away from Evans, but the defender forces him deep to the goal line and when the cross comes in, Worner gathers comfortably.

[12] Caprari receives the ball with his back to goal 25 yards out. He turns, gets the ball out of his feet and has a pop from the edge of the box but it’s straight at Worner who pushes it away.

[13] Álvaro delays pulling the trigger when in acres of space in the box, and eventually the ball is played wide to Danny Wilson whose first-time cross hangs in the wind and comes back off the bar with Worner beaten before Hodges puts it behind for a corner.

[14] St. Johnstone 0-2 Arsenal: Wilshere’s in-swinging corner is met at the far post by Koscielny who heads back across goal and beats Worner for Arsenal’s second.

[16] Álvaro is played in by Wilshere but the Spaniard takes an extra touch allowing Tancock to get something on the shot and the hosts scramble it away.

[19] St Johnstone have had a good spell since the second goal but without an end product. Shroot is giving Wilshere and Wilson a good challenge down the hosts’ right flank.

[20] First touch of significance for Arsenal ‘keeper Tréguer who collects a Hodges free-kick hit from deep into the box.

[21] Wilson hauls down Shroot in front of the dugouts. Earns himself a word from the referee, would likely be seeing yellow there if it wasn’t a friendly.

[25] Shaqiri hits one from distance but it’s always bending away from goal and Worner is untroubled.

[28] Handball shout as Hodges blocks Corluka’s cross into the box with some part of his body, but the officials are unmoved and Arsenal will have to make do with a corner. Shaqiri starting to grow more into the match after a quiet opening half-hour.

[28] Nastasic meets Wilshere’s corner at the near post but Hodges is on the post to clear off the line.

[32] Shaqiri hits a daisy-cutter wide from 25 yards.

[34] Third corner for Arsenal as Hodges nicks the ball away from Shaqiri. Nastasic is on the end of it at the near post but heads over the top.

[37] Wilshere launches a long free-kick into the box which Caprari meets fifteen yards out but his header comes back off the angle of post and bar.

[39] Shaqiri gets behind one from 30 yards out and Worner is at full-stretch to tip it over the bar. That was rocketing into the top corner!

[40] Pardo’s corner from the left drops around the penalty spot, isn’t cleared and eventually Inler rifles a shot through the crowd and it’s inches wide from a third goal.

[40] St Johnstone win their first corner of the game as Nastasic heads behind a long ball into the Arsenal box.

[41] Jacobs whips the corner in to the near post, Wilshere and Shroot go down in a tussle and the whistle goes in Arsenal’s favour as Caddis pokes the ball towards goal before seeing it clip the post and go wide.

[42] Shaqiri fires wide from distance. I have a feeling I should copy that phrase to my clipboard this season.

[43] Corluka plays a lovely cross-field pass to Wilshere who takes a touch to bring it down, but his ball into the box is cut out just as Caprari looked clean through. Shaqiri goes down under a challnge from Jacobs but nothing from the officials.

[45] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal: Shaqiri makes it three just as eyes started to turn to the fourth official. Corluka played it into his feet, he turned Hodges, sold him a dummy and then drills a low shot into Worner’s bottom right from 18 yards.

[HT] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal

Two changes for St. Johnstone at the break, while Arsenal are set to resume with the same starting XI. Moon and Kane on for Jacobs and Gilchrist.

A half-time talk from Surman suggesting he was pleased with the way things were going seemed to have had a good effect throughout the squad. Changes likely within the first five minutes of the half.

[46] SUBSTITUTIONS: As Wilshere wins a free kick on the left, Arsenal get the go-ahead to make six changes. On come new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic, alongside M’Vila, Merkel, Coutinho and Cazorla who takes the captain’s armband. Off go Corluka, Inler, Shaqiri, Álvaro, Wilshere and Caprari.

[47] Cazorla’s free-kick is clerared, but Koscielny works the ball back to him. He crosses for Obradovic whose flick towards goal is blocked. The ball runs free and Cazorla fires it back at goal but it cannons off Coutinho and away.

[50] Obradovic gets on the end of Koch’s ball into the box but immediately has three defenders around him. The ball eventually finds its way to M’Vila but his shot is wayward from the edge of the area.

[53] Coutinho plays a lovely ball into the path of Pardo who hits it first-time from just inside the box but Evans takes the brunt of it before Hodges hacks it away and Arsenal win a corner.

[54] Coutinho’s corner is cut out but Arsenal retain possession on their right flank. Koch and Pardo combine to send a cross deep towards the far post where Coutinho has stolen in, but the Brazilian’s header from six yards out is straight at Worner. Golden chance to make it four.

[55] Coutinho is pulling all the strings at the moment. His cross is low and with pace across the face of goal, but Obradovic and Merkel get in each others’ way.

[56] SUBSTITUTIONS: Four changes for St Johnstone: Turton, Sutton, Locke and Jellema on for Evans, Hodges, Shroot and Newton.

[59] Merkel heads on Koch’s cross to Obradovic who lays it off back to Merkel but the German doesn’t get on the end of it.

[60] Cazorla wins Arsenal a corner off Sutton. The hosts clear but Wilson crosses back into the box and Obradovic has his header tipped over by Worner. Koscielny’s header is saved before Coutinho fires wide from distance.

[64] Worner has to be smart and react quickest to beat Merkel to the end of a Wilson cross.

[65] High and wide from M’Vila from COutinho’s knockdown.

[68] Cazorla plays a lovely pass out wide to Wilson who pulls the ball back to M’Vila who tries to curl it in the top corner from 25 yards but it whistles past the post.

[71] SUBSTITUTION: Wilson and M’Vila repeat the move but again the Frenchman fires wide. Surman looks unimpressed. Kenny Gordon comes on for Rubén Pardo as Arsenal move to two up-top.

[75] Tancock slices a clearance behind for Arsenal’s ninth corner. Worner safely holds Nastasic’s header.

[80] Inside the final ten here in Perth, and I don’t remember the last time the ball was in the Arsenal half. The match is petering out somewhat though. Surman looks happy with the eleven on the pitch and the performance as Coutinho wins Arsenal another corner. .. which is cleared. 10,266 here this afternoon announces the PA system.

[83] Julian Koch cuts inside from his marauding run up the right and fizzes a shot inches over the bar. What a goal that would have been for a striker, let alone a full-back!

[85] Obradovic beats two defenders in a run towards the edge of the box but his shot isn’t one that causes Worner any problems.

[87] Nice passage of play provides the hosts with their first peek at goal since the break, but M’Vila charges down Moon’s blast at goal.

[88] Coutinho has a shot deflected wide for a corner. Worner saves from Nastasic’s header once more.

[90] One minute goes up on the board and Surman looks happy with the performance. His squad look raring to go for the season ahead. Thumbs up and a well done to his players today from the manager.

[FT] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal (Friendly, PKM)

One-way traffic today, but the key thing was that everyone came through the match unscathed in Surman’s first look at his squad in action. M’Vila was particularly wasteful after his introduction, while the three strikers played didn’t particularly exert themselves.

Arsenal’s defence were untroubled, but looked solid as a unit though a lack of cover may be an issue. Definitely an area that the new manager will look at before the season kicks-off in four weeks. Wilshere looked lively today, and Surman will surely be hoping that the player will commit his future to the club.

    • 04.08: Friendly Plymouth Argyle v. AFC (Home Park, Plymouth)
    • 08.08: Friendly Fortuna Düsseldorf v. AFC (Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf)
    • 11.08: Friendly Charlton Athletic v. AFC (The Valley, London)


U19 Euros, Matchday 3: Spain Clinch Semi Spot

Spain came from being a goal-down inside forty seconds to beat England with a quick-fire double before the interval to clinch a semi-final spot at the U19 Euro Championships this afternoon.

Elsewhere, Italy and the Netherlands kept up their 100% record while France made their spot in the final four mathematically safe with a comprehensive win over the hosts. Wednesday’s semi-finals see Italy play Spain, while France play the Dutch.

                  UEFA U19 CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

 Group A:              France 4-0 Poland
                     Camara 6
                   Charron 25
                     Henry 84
                   Yaméogo 89

 Group A:             Germany 0-2 Italy
                                  Sala 8
                                  Milano 38

 Group B:            Portugal 0-4 Netherlands
                                  Vos 6
                                  Aksoy 39
                                  Voss 69
                                  El Amrani 81 pen

 Group B:               Spain 2-1 England
                   Jiménez 30     Branch 1
               Truyols 34 pen

Friendly Match Preview: St. Johnstone v. AFC

Arsenal fans eagerly await their first viewing of new manager Gray Surman in the dugout during tomorrow’s friendly at St. Johnstone. With the exception of Wojciech Szczesny, a full squad is available including new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic as well as World Cup winners Santi Cazorla and Rubén Pardo.

Szczesny has returned to training after the broken ankle he sustained during Arsenal’s final match of last season, but Surman is unlikely to rush him back into action. Much to the new manager’s annoyance, the club are unable to call upon backup ‘keeper Josh Vickers.

Vickers started a season-long loan at Fleetwood Town which was signed-off while David Moyes was still at Arsenal, and a fee involved in the deal means he cannot be recalled. 18-year old Johann Tréguer may have to deputise between the posts.

It’s anticipated that Surman will play a separate XI in each half, with a youngster or two travelling with the squad up to Scotland as he’ll take a look at as many players as possible in his first opportunity. Weather in Perth for the match is predicted to be gusty, 17°C.

St. Johnstone v. Arsenal
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Sunday 22 July 2018

St. Johnstone are about to start their second campaign back in the second-tier, after finishing bottom of the Scottish Premiership in 2017 before a disappointing 8th place finish in the Championship last season. They’ve bounced between the top two flights in recent years, having experienced promotion or relegation five times in the last 20 years.

None of the current first-team squad has won a senior international cap, though last season’s Supporters’ Player of the Year – ex-Swansea centre-back Scott Tancock – made 22 appearances for Wales U21s. Defender Ben Hodges and striker Martyn Newton® have joined The Saints on loan for the season from Aston Villa and Newcastle respectively.

McDiarmid Park has been the club’s home since 1989 and was the first purpose-built all-seater stadium constructed in the United Kingdom. Located between the Rivers Tay and Almond in the city of Perth, the ground holds just shy of 11,000. Tomorrow will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides, and will be overseen by referee David O’Leary.

Managers on the Move: International Changes

Former Lyon, Rangers and PSG manager Paul Le Guen has been announced as the new head coach of France, replacing Didier Deschamps who resigned following a disappointing World Cup. Le Guen leaves Oman after seven years, having most recently guided them to qualification for next year’s Asian Cup.

Elsewhere over the last week there have been new appointments for Kim Eun-Joong (South Korea), Michel Preud’homme (Saudi Arabia), Dan Walker (USA), Elvis Scoria (Croatia), and Sergio Almaguer (Mexico).

At club level, Marcelino has left Schalke after two seasons to take charge at Porto.

New Signings Koch and Obradovic Introduced

New signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic have been introduced to the media at the Emirates Stadium this morning, with the Arsenal manager buoyant about working with the players. Both are likely to feature prominently in Sunday’s friendly at St. Johnstone.

journalist70Press Conference:
In attendance are BBC London, TEAMtalk,
Football 365, The People, & The Guardian.

surman70Arsenal FC:
First Team manager Gray Surman introduces
new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic.

I’m delighted to be able to welcome both Julian and Marko to the club, and I sit here confident that their arrival will be a massive boost to the whole team, and confirm my intent to challenge for the top four this season.

“Marko’s signing is just part of my long-term vision for the future of Arsenal , and I’m confident he can make a big contribution. he was keen to join his international team-mate Matija [Nastasic] here and I thank Matija for helping us push the deal over the line.

“I’m excited to be working with Julian again, he was a player I was keeping tabs on during my time away, and I’m honoured that he stated publicly that he’d jump at the chance to join me here at Arsenal. I have a great friendship with him and it was idea for him to come here and take the next step in his career.

“I understand that I may have ruffled a few feathers with the Dortmund fans, but we made a fair offer and nobody forced their board to accept. The deal went through without a hitch so the Dortmund fans should be pleased that Julian is happy and will be playing football at the highest level next season.

“There is still some room left in the budget, and I have identified one area I’d like to strengthen ahead of the season so it’s about making the right moves if the right players become available. I’m happy with the squad now we’ve made these two key signings.

“Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in action on Sunday.”