By Richard Clarke in Schwadorf
Jose Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Gilberto all made their first appearances of the season as Arsenal completed their Austrian trip with a 8-1 win at Schwadorf on Monday night.
Goals from Emmanuel Adebayor (2), Van Persie (2), Johan Djourou, Kolo Toure, Nicklas Bendtner and Alex Hleb were enough to see off the Third Division side with something to spare. Still this will act as a good workout for Arsène Wenger's side.
The manager knows he must 'fast-track' his side back to match fitness, particularly the World Cup players, with a Champions League qualifier little more than a week away. This game was a start for some of the squad, expect a further step forward against AZ Alkmaar on Friday.
Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes due to traffic congestion outside the small Sportzentrum ground at Schwadorf. It was no surprise as there was a festival atmosphere in this small town just west of Vienna. As spectators entered the ground, there were various stalls, promotional events and even a live band playing behind one goal. However the carnival tone ended at kick-off as Arsenal started at a blistering pace.
In the fourth minute, Gilberto planted a header against the bar from a corner by Jose Antonio Reyes. Two minutes later, Van Persie burst through on the edge of the area and had the relatively simple job of rounding the keeper and tucking the ball into the empty net.
In the 10th minute, Toure met another Reyes corner with a floated header to the far post and Thomas Reitprecht had to nod the ball off the line.
In the 14th minute, Schwadorf keeper Uli Meusburger pushed a low shot from Reyes around the post, Once again the Spaniard took the corner and this time Djourou scored with a powerful downward header.
The home side came back into the game after that. Stefan Nestl went on an overlapping down the right and whipped in a cross to the far post. Christian Schandl rose to nod the ball back across goal but wide of the post. The same player then lifted the ball over Manuel Almunia's bar and, in seven minutes from the break, the keeper had to dive full length to tip Oliver Lederer's shot around the post.
However normal service was resumed almost immediately when Adebayor raced into Van Persie's clever ball through and slipped the ball past the onrushing keeper. The Togolese striker grabbed his second, Arsenal's fourth, with the final kick off the first half. Van Persie's deep free-kick was nodded back into the area by Djourou. Kolo Toure touched the ball against the post and Adebayor stabbed the ball home from close range.
Wenger made seven changes at the break and within two minutes the lead had been extended. Hleb and Song, combined for Van Persie to whip the ball home on the half-volley.
Four minutes later only the sliding Thomas Zingler stopped Aliadiere squeezing the ball home at the far post. The respite would be short. In the 53rd minute, Toure's free-kick was deflected past the unfortunate Meusburger.
However Arsenal would be lucky in the minutes that followed. First Mart Poom's had to backtrack urgently and turn the ball aside from Martin Labaska. The corner fell to Karol Schulz who hammered the ball against the inside of the post.
On the hour, Wenger substituted the remaining four players from the first half - Gilberto, Van Persie, Toure and Justin Hoyte. One of the new arrivals, Nicklas Bendtner rolled in a shot from close range having been set up by Hleb.
With 12 minutes left, Pascal Cygan nearly got a rare goal but his scrambled effort was cleared off the line. In the 84th minute, excellent work from Nicklas Bentdner set up Hleb to score.
All it needed now was for the home side to get the goal they deserved. Labaska provided it with a close range finish three minutes from time.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.