By Richard Clarke

Andrey Arshavin struck twice in the final four minutes as Arsenal beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 to end Day One on top of the Emirates Cup standings.

To be honest, little had happened in this game before Jack Wilshere’s introduction at half time. The teenage midfielder tantalised the Spanish defence for 45 minutes however it would be a Russian who won the game for the home side.

Arshavin seemed to have done that in the 86th minute when he volleyed in from a Cesc Fabregas cross however German Pacheco levelled seconds later.

A draw seemed certain but, then again, nothing is certain with Arshavin on the pitch. In the dying seconds, he raced onto an errant backheader, flicked the ball past the keeper and squeezed the ball home from an almost impossible angle.

It was four minutes of madness after a pretty mundane 86. But it was good enough to win the game and puts Arsenal in pole position to regain their home trophy.

Wenger always intended to spread his squad across this two-game weekend but, nonetheless, his side this afternoon was reasonably strong.

The most significant news was the return of Tomas Rosicky after 19 months away. Thomas Vermaelen had been forced off at the end of the friendly at Hannover on Wednesday and, as a result, did not appear today. The formation was the now established wide 4-3-3 but this time Robin van Persie was flanked on the left by Nicklas Bendtner and on the right by Emmanuel Eboue.

Atletico started with Diego Forlan up front and Jose Antonio Reyes on the right. The former Manchester United forward was never going to be that popular among the home crowd but the announcement of the latter was cheered by the Emirates faithful. Reyes had a record of 23 goals in 110 appearances during his three years at Highbury.

It was the Spaniard who provided the first telling moment of the game. In the sixth minute, Reyes took the corner from the right, Raul Garcia nodded on at the near post and Sergio Aguero sent his header into the sidenetting at the far. A player of his stature should have done better.

Rosicky nearly had a made an immediate impact on his return but, despite his finger-wagging protestations to the assistant referee, he was correctly called offside before slamming the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.

It was a bright beginning but it could not be maintained. Opportunities were scarce in a mundane first 45 minutes.

Forlan and Florent Sinama-Pongolle both had half-chances with headers. However, generally, Arsenal were the slicker side.

That said, the most they could muster was a curling cross from Armand Traore than caused Atletico keeper Sergio Asenjo to bat the ball away while Van Persie had a free-kick deflected over.

Three minutes from the break, the Dutchman fed Eboue on the left. The Ivorian cut in and fired straight at Asenjo, who stood firm.

Wenger replaced Rosicky, Eboue and Traore with Wilshere, Fran Merida and Gael Clichy at the start of the second half.

The latter pair were playing their first pre-season games of 2009/10. While the first of the trio, Wilshere, showed class from the off as Arsenal took control.

Three minutes in he sent Sagna clear on the right and the full back’s low cross was backflicked towards goal by Van Persie only for John Heitinga to knock the ball off the line.

Almost immediately, Bendtner controlled Wilshere’s lofted cross at the far post and blazed over when, at least, he should have employed the keeper.

Just past the hour, substitute Maxi Rodriguez sent in a shot from distance and Mannone could only half-punch the ball behind.

However within seconds Clichy sent over a tantalising cross from the left and Wilshere fooled his marker on the byline before laying the ball back to Ramsey. The Welshman had time and space, on reflection perhaps too much. His powerful shot was a parried by Asenjo.

It was Ramsey’s last contribution. He joined Bendtner and Van Persie as they were replaced by Eduardo, Arshavin and Fabregas.

It was perhaps the boost Arsenal needed. Within seconds Wilshere clipped another clever ball to the far post and Merida slid in seconds too late.

Both sides went for the win towards the end. Rodriguez fired a shot across the face of goal then Mannone parried a swerving drive from Borja Baston on to the bar.

Four minutes from time, Arshavin had seemingly won it won he volleyed in a Fabregas cross but Pacecho’s breakaway strike proved otherwise.

So Arshavin did what Arshavin does – he won it again. The 27-year-old raced on to a misplaced backheader, beat the keeper and turned to ball home.

An incredible finish. Roll on Sunday.

LEAGUE TABLE
  GF GA POINTS
Arsenal 2 1 5
Rangers 1 0 4
Atletico Madrid 1 2 1
PSG 0 1 0
SHOTS ON TARGET
  Total shots on target
Atletico Madrid 6
Arsenal 5
Rangers 2
PSG 0

Arsenal

25
Mannone
20
Djourou
3
Sagna
27
Eboue 46
13
Gallas
3
Traore 46
15
Denilson
16
Ramsey 66
7
Rosicky 46
20
van Persie 66
23
Bendtner 66

Substitutes

22
Clichy 46
4
Fabregas 66
32
Merida 46
18
Silvestre
10
Arshavin 66 Goal! Goal!
11
Eduardo 66
1
Szczesny
10
Wilshere 46
7
Watt
17
Song

Atletico Madrid

1
Sergio Asenjo
16
Juanito Yellow Card
4
Heitinga
15
Dominguez 55
8
Raul Garcia 69
12
Paulo Assuncao
30
Ujfalusi Yellow Card
16
Aguero 53
19
Reyes 69
14
Sinama Pongolle 40
9
Forlan 72

Substitutes

2
Valera
0
David De Gea
11
Maxi 40
23
Cleber Santana 69
3
Antonio Lopez
30
Pacheco 53 Goal!
0
Borja Baston 72
20
Simao
24
Cabrera 55
19
Jurado 69
21
Perea
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 1 Aug 2009