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Sluggish Gunners leave Emery with work to do before big kick-off

Arsenal beat Chelsea on penalties in the International Champions Cup – but performance will worry the new head coach

02 August, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Alexandre Lacazette hit a late equaliser to send the tie to spotkicks

NEW Arsenal head coach Unai Emery was given a timely reminder just how tough his first season in the Premier League is going to be last night (Wednesday) as he saw his side come from behind to beat Chelsea on penalties in the International Champions Cup.

With just over a week to go before the new campaign gets under way, the Gunners looked worryingly sluggish and lethargic at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

It looked like they were going to be rewarded for their performance with a 1-0 defeat. But with the very last kick of the game Alexandre Lacazette equalised to send the tie to spotkicks.

Lacazette, Reiss Nelson, Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mesut Ozil all converted their penalties before Petr Cech reacted well to deny Ruben Loftus-Cheek. That left Alex Iwobi to seal a 6-5 victory.

The Blues had taken the lead after just five minutes when Callum Hudson-Odoi picked out former Gunner Cesc Fabregas, who forced Cech to turn his shot behind. The resulting corner was powerfully headed home by Antonio Rudiger from 12 yards out after the towering defender was left unmarked.

Unai Emery

It might have been a pre-season friendly, but Chelsea were playing like it was a proverbial six-pointer. They should have been 2-0 up after 13 minutes as the impressive Hudson-Odoi effortlessly glided past Hector Bellerin, leaving the Arsenal defender with little choice but to bring him down for a penalty.

Chelsea, however, have pre-season problems of their own, namely their lack of a genuine goalscorer. And so it proved as the confidence-stricken Alvaro Morata saw his spotkick comfortably saved by former Blues keeper Cech.

Despite being outplayed for much of the first half, Arsenal could have equalised shortly after the half-hour mark had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got something on the end of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s sublime cross.]

At the other end Arsenal’s defence was found wanting yet again when Hudson-Odoi beat the offside trap with his pace but failed to get the better of Cech, who did well to stand his ground and make the save.

Arsenal improved a ­little in the second half, with Emile Smith Rowe and Lacazette both doing their best on the attack. It paid off as Lacazette got a goal and helped Arsenal secure an unlikely win, but Emery knows that he’s still got work to do.

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