Premiership giants attract large crowds to Aviva

Antonio Rudiger gets up for an easy header above the Arsenal defence. Photo: Brian F. Smyth photography


By Paul Carton

The streets around the Aviva stadium were awash with religious types for this London derby. Although they wore different colours they were all there to praise one thing, and that was English Football. This derby was part of the International Champions Cup. A tournament that precedes a club’s regular season and crosses three continents, Europe, North America and Asia. Arsenal played their last game in Singapore but Chelsea had been playing closer to home in France. This was Arsenal’s last game in the tournament with Chelsea due to play their final game next week in their hometown, London. Jetlag could have been the reason why Chelsea took advantage of a sleepy Arsenal defence in the first ten minutes as Antonio Rudiger leapt above a flat footed Arsenal defence to put Chelsea in the lead with an accurate header.  One player for Arsenal who must have had a good doze on the plane is new signing Matteo Guendouzi. This 19 year old, who plays in Midfield, was just important in Arsenal’s defence as he was in their midfield and ran more in the first twenty minutes than his teammates probably did in the whole game. Guendouzi who was playing in the 2nd division in France was signed by ex-PSG coach Unai Emery when he took over the reins at Arsenal this year after Arsene Wenger retired after his 22 years in charge. The French league is well-known for its defensive style and it was boring boring Arsenal once again with the signature Arsenal offside trap that had been fundamental in Arsenal’s success under George Graham two decades ago.  Coming in to the second half Chelsea was still ahead and it wasn’t until Lacazette came on for Arsenal in the last twenty minutes did Arsenal look like scoring and in  injury time he did and put the game into penalties. Even though attendance at the game was 5000 short of the stadium’s 51,000 capacity, the crowd was quiet and it seemed even numbers had shown for their teams. But during the penalties it was obvious there was marginally more Arsenal fans than Chelsea. Arsenal won the shoot-out 6-5. Due to the nature of this tournament, Arsenal only gain two points from a victory won on penalties and Chelsea come away with one point. This ends both team chances of winning the cup. Tottenham currently are on top and have played all of their games  but Juventus are in a good position with one game to go.  The Premiership season starts  next weekend and usually pre-season games are a display of how well prepared players are both mentally and physically for a gruelling season and if you were an Arsenal  or Chelsea fan you might have some concern.

One thing to note for locals, this reporter was told by an officer of the law that if your bike is parked in one of these busy streets when a game like this is on it will be removed.