Jul 13, 2017 at 11am UK at ​Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Sydney FCSydney FC
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Live Commentary: Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal - as it happened

Live Commentary: Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal - as it happened
© SilverHub
Relive Sports Mole's live coverage of Arsenal's 2-0 win over Sydney FC, as the Gunners kicked off their pre-season campaign with a well-earned victory.

Arsenal got their pre-season campaign off to a winning start by seeing off Sydney FC 2-0 at the ANZ Stadium, courtesy of goals from Per Mertesacker and Alexandre Lacazette.

Mertesacker found a way through with less than five minutes on the clock, flicking the ball past Andrew Redmayne to put the Gunners on their way.

The visitors created numerous chances over the 90 minutes but struggled to get the better of Redmayne, until Lacazette came off the bench to net a debut goal seven minutes from time.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

10.00amHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the pre-season friendly encounter between Sydney FC and Arsenal at the ANZ Stadium. The Gunners get their trip Down Under under way with a clash against last season's A-League champions, prior to jetting to the Far East in a few days' time. It is all in preparation for the start of the new Premier League campaign in a month's time, with the Londoners expected to challenge for the title.

10.02amThe questions over Arsene Wenger's future were put to an end last month when the Frenchman put pen to paper on a two-year deal, but the fanbase still remains pretty split. The only way Wenger will appease supporters is to win the Premier League title this term, having relied heavily on the FA Cup over the past four years. Opponents Sydney FC are favourites to retain their A-League crown, meanwhile, two months on from going all the way in 2016-17.

10.04amTEAM NEWS!

SYDNEY FC XI: Redmayne, Buijs, Brillante, Zullo, Retre, O'Neill, Brosque, Carney, Simon, Lokolingoy, Ryall

ARSENAL XI: Cech, Bramall, Mertesacker, Bielik, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Willock, Walcott, Ozil, Nelson, Welbeck

10.06amWenger revealed earlier this week that he intends to stick with his three-at-the-back system next season, having enjoyed much success with it in the closing stages of the previous campaign. These matches in Australia and Chine provide the perfect chance to, in the words of the Frenchman, "experiment with his side", and he has opted to stick with that 3-4-2-1 formation from the off today at the ANZ Stadium.

10.08amSome familiar names in attack, as Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott provide support from attacking midfield for Danny Welbeck, who is tasked with leading the line this morning. Per Mertesacker and Petr Cech also start, while defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin can now be considered an experienced head, but elsewhere there is a chance for some of the fringe players to make a name for themselves.

10.10amReiss Nelson and Cohen Bramall are used at wing-back, while academy graduate Chris Willock is used alongside Coquelin in the engine room. Krystian Bielik is the other youngster yet to break into Wenger's first-team plans, but he will no doubt be hoping to use these upcoming tour games as a chance to prove that he can do a job when called upon. On the left side of the three-man backline is Sead Kolasinac, who left Schalke 04 to join the Gunners as a free agent.

10.12amIn terms of the home side, who will be competing at a sold out ANZ Stadium, they can call upon former Sheffield United midfielder David Carney in central midfield. There is no place for Serbia international Milos Ninkovic in the starting lineup, though, as he is made to settle for a place on the bench, while former Corinthians and Besiktas striker Bobo - arguably the main attacking threat - is also used in reserve.


SYDNEY FC SUBS: Iredale, McGing, Flottmann, Bobo, Ninkovic, Kuleski, Curtis, Zuvela, Dragicevic, Zapata, Green

ARSENAL SUBS: Martinez, Ospina, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Xhaka, Chamberlain, Iwobi, Lacazette, Giroud, Malen, Nketiah

10.16amThe big team news as far as Arsenal are concerned is that Alexandre Lacazette is among the subs for this opening pre-season fixture, but Wenger has already promised supporters in attendance that the record signing will play some part - likely 45 minutes, you'd imagine. Plenty of first-team experience on the bench, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud are also included, but notably no Aaron Ramsey.

10.18amArsenal include one of their summer signings from the off for this morning's friendly, using Sead Kolasinac - a free agent after departing Schalke 04 - on the left side of their three-man backline. Alexandre Lacazette will play a part from the bench, meanwhile, as Arsene Wenger goes with a 3-4-2-1 formation in Sydney. Plenty of experience in the squad, but the likes of Mathieu Debuchy, Wojciech Szczesny and Carl Jenkinson have all been left at home.

Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette in the Europa League match against Roma on March 16, 2017© SilverHub

10.20amThe Gunners have the chance to test themselves against the best Australia can offer today, then, as they come up against the reigning champions. It was just 51 days ago that we saw the Sky Blues in action against Liverpool, going down 3-0 here in what can best be described as en end-of-season exhibition match due to the inclusion of a few legendary players on the Reds' behalf.

10.22amSydney are in competition action against Darwin Rovers in the FFA Cup on August 2, before getting their title defence up and running with a trip to Melbourne five days later. They are seen as the team to beat in 2017-18 after winning 20 of their 27 league fixtures last term, scoring 55 and conceding just 12 goals - more than half the next best tally - along the way.

10.24amThe Sky Blues finished top of the table but they still had to take on Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final, which they would go on to win 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Sydney have been installed as favourites to repeat that success this coming campaign, with competition likely to be provided by Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City. For boss Graham Arnold, this is a chance to get his players fully back up to speed.

10.26amSydney finished 17 points clear of Melbourne Victory last term, in fact, so there is quite clearly a divide between the country's best and the also-rans. The Sky Blues have some real talented players in their ranks, ex-Corinthians and Besiktas forward Bobo - only on the bench today - among them, and they are expected to give Arsenal a run for their money over the next couple of hours.

10.28amArsenal fans have a chance to see a couple of their new recruits up close for the first time this morning, but supporters will be hoping that the spending does not stop there. Kolasinac seems like a smart capture, providing some strength in depth at the back, while Lacazette has proved prolific in Ligue 1 and is now given a chance to prove himself in a tougher division. At a club-record cost, he is under pressure to bag goals galore next term.

10.30amAfter agreeing a new two-year deal, which rather comically dragged on right until the opening stages of the summer, Wenger has been backed in the transfer market. Thomas Lemar appears to be next on the Frenchman's radar, with a third bid of more than £40m said to have been offered to AS Monaco, who are understandably reluctant to offload another of their title-winning stars. Reports suggest that the wideman could be an Arsenal play by the time they complete this tour of Australia and China.

10.32amWenger has been far too reliant on the FA Cup in the past four years, though, winning the competition three times during that time to constantly keep his head above the surface. Many wanted him out last term, even after the extra-time win over Chelsea in May's final at Wembley, but it seemed almost inevitable that he would stay on for another campaign or two. This does appear to be the last cycle for the long-serving boss, however, so he will go all out to build a title-winning squad.

10.34amFor the first time in two decades the Gunners do not have Champions League football to look forward to next term - possibly a blessing in disguise, as highlighted by Leicester City and Chelsea, who have won the Premier League title in the past two seasons without having to rotate their respective squads. They have to make that count with a fast start in the top flight; something they have struggled with in the past couple of campaigns with defeats to West Ham United and Liverpool.

10.36amThe North Londoners had what can best be described as a false start last term, in fact, as they took their time to get going and were as good as out of the title race before the season had truly started. Unlike 12 months ago, Wenger has the vast majority of his squad available for the early throes of pre-season; the obvious exception being a certain Alexis Sanchez, whose future continues to remain in the balance.

10.38amThe future of manager Arsene Wenger was finally resolved last month, as he put pen to paper on a new two-year deal. Now the questions centre around Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who are into the final 12 months of their contracts and will therefore be free to open discussions with foreign teams in January. Ozil appears happy to stay, likely due to a lack of clubs willing to match his asking price, while Sanchez - wanted by Bayern Munich and Manchester City - could still be on his way before August 31.

Alexis Sanchez, aka Alexis, celebrates scoring the second during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Sunderland on May 16, 2017© SilverHub

10.40amIf Arsenal are to hit the ground running in the Premier League then they need to enjoy a positive pre-season campaign, beginning with this testing opener against A-League champions Sydney FC. They also take on Western Sydney Wanderers here on Saturday morning before travelling to Beijing for games against Bayern Munich and Chelsea, before heading home to take on Benfica and Sevilla in the annual Emirates Cup.

10.42amTheir final pre-season test comes against Chelsea in the Community Shield on August 6, although as Jose Mourinho is quick to remind people that is now a competitive fixture rather than a friendly. I'm sure the Gunners would take a defeat in that Wembley Stadium showdown if it meant bagging three points against Leicester City in the opening fixture of the Premier League campaign less than a week later, though, as they begin 2017-18 with a winnable but tricky match.

10.44amStoke City and Liverpool are up next for the Gunners after that Leicester opener - a fairly mixed start, but you would fancy them to take six points from six ahead of that big game against potential title rivals Liverpool early in the campaign. Wenger will almost certainly go with a three-at-the-back formation for those games, so it makes sense to use that system in this pre-season opener.

10.46amArsenal won nine of their last 10 games of last season using this new formation - the first time Wenger has used three at the back in two decades. A tame loss to rivals Tottenham Hotspur aside, it worked perfectly and - as is now customary - the season ended with supporters believing that a title challenge could well be on the cards next time around. So often those hopes prove unfounded, with the Gunners finding themselves well off the title pace, but Wenger is determined to prove his doubters wrong in 2017-18.

10.48amWenger joked in the build-up to this match that the pressure is already on, having been questioned about both Ozil and Sanchez just seconds into his first press conference of the season. The debate over those two will continue to rumble on for the next seven weeks of the window no doubt, but there is also a big debate to be had over striker Olivier Giroud. The France international is one of those who seems to be able to do a job whenever called upon, yet Lacazette does appear to be a serious upgrade - just not in the eyes of Les Blues boss Didier Deschamps!

10.50amLacazette was on course to join Atletico Madrid this summer, only for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold the Spanish club's transfer ban and put an end to any transfer. Atleti's loss was Arsenal's gain, and they now have a player on their books who simply loves finding the net. His arrival could well spell the end for Giroud, who has made clear this summer that he will not stick around if he is only a back-up option next season.

10.52amWith kickoff at the ANZ Stadium now less than 10 minutes away, let us check out some pre-match comments from both camps.

Graham Arnold: "We try to replicate, in a lot of ways, what they do with the way they play the game and it's an honour for our boys to walk out on Thursday. We know that there will probably be more Arsenal supporters than Sydney fans but... to get the type of clubs like Arsenal to come out to promote our game as well of football in this country is massive for us. We're really excited to line up against these blokes."

Arsene Wenger: "I am open to get some more signings, but it is not easy to find the players who can strengthen our squad, because we have top-quality players. There are two ways to improve always - analyse what we did well last season and what we did not so well and improve that, and then you can bring new players in. But at the moment, because we are in pre-season, it is very important for us to analyse well what happened last season and where we can improve. We have top quality in our squad, and at the moment I focus on that."

10.54amSydney boss Arnold says that it is "an honour" to line up against the Gunners in this pre-season friendly, 51 days on from also hosting Liverpool in an exhibition match here. These matches so often used to be simply about fitness, but in the modern day players tend to remain at peak fitness all year round and use these fixtures as a chance to win over their manager. In this case, Cohen Bramall, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock have a chance to shine on their senior debuts for Arsenal.

10.56amWenger was asked to give an insight into his transfer dealings, meanwhile, admitting that he wants to strengthen but is finding it tough to bring in players that can adequately strengthen the squad. It is a fair comment from the Frenchman, who has so far brought in Kolasinac and Lacazette, while Thomas Lemar could be just a week or two away from signing if reports are to be believed. Only one more big-name arrival will then be required if they can keep hold of Alexis Sanchez.

10.58amBoth sets of players have now made their way out on to the field of play at a sold out ANZ Stadium in Sydney. As Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold mentioned in those comments, Arsenal fans are expected to outweigh the home contingent today in this opening fixture of the Gunners' pre-season campaign. Three debutants in their ranks and a few other fringe players, though this is still a very strong squad and one that you would fancy to get the job done today.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil in action during the North London derby at the Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016© SilverHub

1 minKICKOFF! Arsenal get us up and running at the ANZ Stadium, sporting their new away kit! Two sell-out attendances expected in Sydney over the next few days to watch the Gunners, beginning with this test against Australia's finest.

3 minA couple of stray passes in the opening stages from both sides, as they take time to find their footing. Confirmation that Arsenal are going with three at the back this morning, while Sydney FC appear to have gone with a 4-2-3-1.


6 minImpressive start from the Gunners, finding themselves a goal to the good with just five minutes on the clock. Willock won his side a corner with good running down the right and, once Ozil's set piece was not dealt with, Mertesacker held off his man and hooked the ball past Andrew Redmayne. Reluctant to call it an overhead kick, but it was very close to one.

8 minJust the start Wenger would have wanted in this opening pre-season fixture, giving his younger players a chance to now express themselves after a bright start. Willock did well in the build-up to that goal, winning the corner from which Mertesacker converted.

10 minArsenal finding themselves in some promising positions in these opening 10 minutes, perhaps being given too much freedom. Nelson opted to loft the ball towards the back post to no avail when he perhaps could have taken it on himself.

12 minSydney FC showing their opponents far too much respect early on. Arsenal just cutting through the hosts at ease at the moment, finding themselves in shooting positions with each attack. Mertesacker's goal the difference so far.

14 minYet again Arsenal just waltz their way through, with Nelson's flashed cross evading Welbeck a few yards out. The Sky Blues unable to really find any sort of rhythm in the opening 14 minutes of the match, which does not bode well for them.

16 minThe Gunners finding it a little more difficult to get the ball into the final third over the past couple of minutes, though the hosts are still unable to really get out of their own half. All very one-sided in Sydney at the moment.

18 minSHOT! Nelson and Welbeck have linked up well early on, and once the former laid it off to his teammate you would have fancied the ex-Man United striker to test Redmayne. The angle was slightly against him and he could only send the shot high and wide.

20 minCoquelin intercepts the ball in midfield in trademark fashion and starts a counter for his side, but no shot arrives. Academy prospect Nelson is really impressing in this first half for the Gunners - undoubtedly their brightest spark.

22 minCLOSE! Poland youth international Krystian Bielik climbs highest to meet a left-sided corner, but his looping header ends on the roof of the net. For all the Gunners' dominance, they have not tested Redmayne near enough so far.

24 minSome real slick play from the Premier League visitors in the final third of the field, with star man Nelson yet again involved in the heart of it. His chipped cross is into a dangerous zone, but the referee blew for an infringement.

26 minArsenal with a succession of shots in the box, all of which were heading for goal if not for timely blocks. Sydney have not settled at all, rather finding themselves hanging on and failing to give a serious account of themselves.

28 minPass after pass after pass from Arsenal in attack, but Wenger will perhaps want to see that dominance count for a little more. Their breakthrough goal came from a dead-ball situation, with Mertesacker converting from a corner.

30 minBLOCK! Great play from Arsenal yet again - they have played some top football in the opening half an hour of this friendly. A passing move ends with Welbeck cutting inside and shooting, only for Sebastian Ryall to produce a stunning block.

32 minSAVE! Redmayne with a rare save to make, keeping out Walcott at his near post. The simplest of stops, but the Gunners - dominant from the off in Sydney - really beginning to turn the screw now for a second goal of the match.

34 minOFF THE POST! A quiet morning for the Gunners' backline, but from pretty much out of nowhere the Australian champions nearly levelled things up. Joshua Brillante's shot was helped on by Cech, before Matt Simon slid in to hit the post with his follow-up attempt.

36 minSAVES! A double stop from Redmayne to keep out both Walcott and Coquelin in the space of a few seconds. The saves themselves were straightforward, but he had to quickly adjust himself for Coquelin's rebounded effort.

38 minArsenal dominant from the off and really should be more than goal ahead, but Sydney FC did manage to give them a scare by hitting the post from their only attacking move of the match a few minutes ago. Half time now fast approaching.

40 minOzil, Welbeck and Walcott exchange passes out on the left. It was worked to Nelson, who has faded as the half has gone on, but he found it difficult to generate any real power behind the ball. Sydney still having to sit very deep.

42 minSAVE! Unbelievable play from Willock to create a one-on-one chance, taking the ball past one defender like he was not even there, but Redmayne produced his best stop yet to keep the scoreline at 1-0 heading into the break.

44 minA minuet of normal time remaining at the end of this first half. Lacazette is currently warming up, suggesting that he could well be introduced at the interval. If Sydney remain this open you would fancy him to open his account today.


11.51amThe referee brings a one-sided first half to an end. Arsenal find themselves a goal to the good thanks to Per Mertesacker's opener inside the opening five minutes, and since then they have created a few good openings to extend their advantage. Just one serious attack from Sydney FC all half, although that did end with Matt Simon hitting the outside of the post.

11.54amIt took just five minutes for the visitors to open their scoring account for the summer, thanks to a smart hooked finish from Per Mertesacker to help Mesut Ozil's uncleared corner past Andrew Redmayne. Arsenal were carving their opponents open at ease for much of the first half, testing Redmayne on a couple more occasions through close-range attempts from Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin.

11.57amKrystian Bielik climbed highest to nod a corner on to the roof of the net and Danny Welbeck was brilliantly denied by a Sebastian Ryall block in front of goal, as the Gunners cruised through the opening 45 minutes. Despite all their dominance, the Premier League outfit could well have been pegged back 34 minutes in as, from their only serious attack of the half, Sydney hit the post through Matt Simon's sliding shot after Joshua Brillante's effort was parried into his path.

12.00pmArsenal, utilising a three-at-the-back system in this first pre-season outing, really should have been more than one goal to the good at the break, with Chris Willock - one of three senior debutants - waltzing his way through but failing to get the beating of Redmayne when one-on-one. The Sky Blues down but certainly not out at the interval, then, with mass changes expected to be made.

12.03pmHere is a reminder of both sides' benches at the midway point. Alexandre Lacazette was sent out to warm up during the opening 45 minutes, so do not be surprised to see the club-record purchase come on for the start of the second period at the ANZ Stadium, while compatriot Olivier Giroud is another option.

SYDNEY FC SUBS: Iredale, McGing, Flottmann, Bobo, Ninkovic, Kuleski, Curtis, Zuvela, Dragicevic, Zapata, Green

ARSENAL SUBS: Martinez, Ospina, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Xhaka, Chamberlain, Iwobi, Lacazette, Giroud, Malen, Nketiah

Olivier Giroud in action during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Burnley on January 22, 2017© SilverHub

46 minRESTART! We are back under way at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, where there is news of a couple of changes for the home side. Zullo and Brosque are off, while Kuleski and Zuvela are on in their place. Arsenal unchanged.

48 minArsenal did make a change at the interval, in fact - Martinez replacing Cech between the sticks (it's pre-season for me, too!). Wenger will no doubt bring on a batch of replacements as we hit the hour mark in this friendly match.

50 minCHANCE! The ball if lofted to the back post where Nelson is waiting to meet it, but he can only volley wide. Arsenal then win a corner but cannot quite get a shot away, despite the ball bobbling around inside the area.

52 minSAVE! A first stop of the afternoon for Emiliano Martinez, who had to be alert to keep out Chris Zuvela's drive from the edge of the box. Lively start to the second half, with chances for both teams going begging early on.

54 minSAVE! Not quite sure how we have yet to see a second goal. More good work from Nelson, who gets to the byline and lofts the ball into the path of Cohen Bramall. The youngster made a good connection but was well denied by Redmayne.

56 minPENALTY TO ARSENAL! A poor backpass is latched on to by Welbeck, who had the simple task of squaring to Walcott. The Englishman saw his attempt blocked on the line by Sebastian Ryall, seemingly with the use of an arm. The referee points to the spot, but replays show that the ball actually hit the defender on the back. Terrible call!

58 minPENALTY MISSED! Well justice has been served. Many fans are left bemused when the 'handball' decision is shown on the big screen, leading to a few home players to cheekily ask Welbeck to deliberately miss the pen. He tried to score, but Redmayne was there to keep it out.

60 minIt is only a pre-season friendly but real controversy with that call from the referee. Where is VAR when you need it?! As it is, we remain at 1-0 in Sydney and Wenger is surely thinking about making those changes shortly.

62 minSAVE! Arsenal just cannot get the ball in the net. Good play to unleash Ozil in behind, though Walcott could only pick out Redmayne when spotted by the German from 12 yards out. Sydney somehow still in this match.

64 minApproaching the three-quarter mark of the match and Wenger is still yet to make an outfield change. We were promised a glimpse of Lacazette at some stage, so the Frenchman will surely be joining the fray shortly.

66 minSYDNEY FC SUB! Ryall, who was allowed to stay on the field despite the referee adjudging that he handled the ball in the box, is replaced by Green. Iredale is also introduced in place of Carney with 24 minutes to go.

68 minSAVE! Sydney certainly offering more of an attacking threat in this second half. Youngster Charles Lokolingoy's shot takes a touch on its way through but is easily dealt with by Martinez. Here come the Arsenal changes...

70 minARSENAL SUBS! A whole raft of changes made by Wenger, perhaps a tad later than expected. I make it eight pairs of fresh legs, including the arrival of record signing Lacazette. Twenty minutes for him to make an instant impression.

72 minThe flow of the game has completely gone at the moment following those mass changes. This may be Sydney's chance to pounce, having performed much better in the second half compared to the first. Still just the one goal in it.

74 minSAVE! Redmayne is on fire this afternoon. The keeper is down low to keep out Alex Iwobi's low drive. From the next attack Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, another of those subs, saw his free kick pushed aside to safety.

76 minSYDNEY FC SUB! Zapata and McIllhatton have been introduced over the past couple of minutes, taking over from Brillante and Lokolingoy. These constant stoppages are not helping with the flow of the game, which is non-existent at the moment.

78 minOFF THE POST! Eddie Nketiah comes close to netting his first goal for the Gunners, hooking a corner back towards goal but being denied by the post. Curtis is now on for Retre in the Sky Blues' latest - and possibly last - change.

80 minA rare chance for Sydney to counter but they are showing tired legs. Incredibly, with 10 minutes of the match left to play, they are still in with a chance of snatching a draw. Inspired keeper Redmayne to thank for that!


83 minLacazette scores shortly after being introduced from the bench for his Arsenal debut, tucking home from close range after being picked out by a neat cutback. The Frenchman will score a ton of those over the next few years - exactly what the Gunners require.

85 minArsenal pushing for a third of the afternoon now, using that Lacazette goal as a real boost. The players and fans certainly enjoyed the Frenchman's strike, knowing that there is plenty more where that came from if he is supplied with chances.

87 minThe Sky Blues have looked better in this second half, testing Martinez on a couple of occasions, but there is no denying that Arsenal are good value for their two-goal margin of victory. If anything, it should have been a lot higher.

89 minArsenal are back in action here in a couple of days' time when taking on Western Sydney Wanderers, where the second-half subs will likely start. So far, so good for Lacazette, netting 15 minutes after being introduced for his debut.


12.58pmThe full-time whistle sounds at the ANZ Stadium, meaning a convincing victory for Arsenal in the end. A-League champions Sydney FC improved in the second half, but the Gunners created numerous openings and could have had five or six if not for man of the match Andrew Redmayne between the sticks.

1.00pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from Sydney. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while updates from Everton's opening pre-season friendly in Tanzania will be up and running in an hour's time. See you then!

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Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring during the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27, 2017
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