We saw our mid-season break come to an end with a defeat against Juventus, despite us dominating the game throughout.
Goals in stoppage time at the end of both halves saw us fall to defeat, with a Granit Xhaka own goal and a strike from London-born Samuel Iling-Junior proving the difference on the scoresheet.
Despite that, we bossed proceedings throughout and saw two goals for Eddie Nketiah ruled out either side of the break - and elements of the performance will have pleased Mikel Arteta ahead of the return of the Premier League on Boxing Day.
First half dominance
The opening 20 minutes were played almost exclusively in the visitors’ half, and we carved out some good early opportunities during that period.
Less than two minutes had passed when Reiss Nelson cut inside and rippled the side-netting, and then he produced some excellent control and skill to tee up Fabio Vieira on the volley, but the Portuguese’s blast was parried over by Juve keeper Mattia Perin.
Nelson’s bright start sadly came to a premature end when he limped off with a muscle injury after just 22 minutes, but we continued to be the dominant side and on 32 minutes Eddie Nketiah was denied twice within 60 seconds.
He firstly saw a goal ruled out for offside after tucking away a deflected Kieran Tierney shot, and then from the resulting free-kick a poor pass along the backline allowed our striker a shooting chance but he thumped his effort against the post.
Setback before the break
But despite all that pressure, we found ourselves behind at half-time. On a rare foray forward, Juve won a corner and after it was played short to Nicoli Fagioli, his cross was inadvertently flicked on into his own net by the head of Xhaka to hand the advantage to the Italians.
The second half once again saw us control possession and territory but struggle to create the same amount of opportunities. Nketiah did get the ball in the net around the hour mark, but he was again thwarted by the referee who adjudged Gabriel to have fouled a defender following a corner into the Juve box.
That brought about the introduction of Amario Cozier-Duberry and he looked lively during his stint on the pitch, regularly causing issues down the left flank as we probed for an equaliser.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side sat back throughout the second half and were content to soak up all our pressure, but Fagioli did go close with a drive from the edge of the box that whistled over the returning Aaron Ramsdale’s crossbar.
Late on, Ethan Nwaneri was also introduced for his first appearance for our first-team at Emirates Stadium, and he flashed an attempt just wide after some neat footwork on the edge of the area.
But right at the death, former Highbury resident Iling-Junior found space in the box and saw a shot deflect off Rob Holding to ensure our World Cup break ended with an undeserved defeat.
We get our Premier League campaign back underway against West Ham United on Boxing Day, before we head to Brighton & Hove Albion on New Year’s Eve aiming to end 2022 still on top of the table.
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