Arsenal missed the opportunity to lift the Emirates Cup for the first time since 2010 when they went down 1-0 to Monaco on Sunday.
Arsène Wenger’s men only needed a draw to take their "home" trophy for the fourth time but their defeat allowed Valencia to take the prize.
The first half was sluggish but Arsenal edged it. So Monaco’s goal – a header by Radamel Falcao from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick – was somewhat against the run of play.
However few would begrudge the Columbian the strike given that it was his first since the knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup.
Arsenal were better the second half half. Jack Wilshere was superbly denied by Danijel Subasic early on but, in the dying minutes, the keeper clipped substitute Chuba Akpom in the area. Somehow referee Martin Atkinson gave a free-kick just outside the box.
It was Arsenal’s last clear chance but they kept going until the end.
Wenger’s men had performed much better on Saturday in their 5-1 demolition of Benfica. This was a different tale.
But, as ever, the Emirates Cup had provided rich entertainment for the fans and decent preparation for the Arsenal manager.
SETTING THE SCENE
Wenger’s side had much more of a first-team look than the one that had brushed aside the Portuguese champions on Saturday. Arsenal.com commentator David Hillier even suggested it maybe the XI that will kick-off the Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace in a fortnight.
The right side was entirely new with Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez making their first starts. All the French World Cup stars were back, with Laurent Koscielny joined Calum Chambers at centre back and Oliver Giroud was up front.
The start was sluggish and very 'pre-season'. Both teams took time to work through their ‘gears’.
Arsenal were the first to show some real attacking intent. Alexis was the driving force; endearing himself to the crowd with nippy moves and drops of his shoulder.
However chances were still rare. In the 19th minute Aaron Ramsey slipped Giroud through but the striker tumbled at the key time.
Then, after Nabil Dirar dribbled a shot wide, Chambers blazed over from a Santi Cazorla corner.
It was all very pedestrian but Arsenal were having the better of the game. That said, Monaco became more urgent as half-time approached.
Eight minutes from the whistle, they took the lead. Wilshere brought down Dirar on the right of the area. Joao Moutinho floated over the free-kick and Falcao emerged unmarked to head home from close-range.
Arsenal tried to respond before half-time. Andrea Raggi narrowly missed nodding into his own net from Debuchy’s low cross.
But Monaco had the lead at the break.
Wenger made a couple of changes after the break and Arsenal were better as a result. The withdrawal of Giroud saw Alexis go through the middle and it was his industry that carved out the home side’s best chance of the game.
In the 50th minute he won 30:70 ball to keep Arsenal in possession then Cazorla’s reverse ball sent Wilshere clear in the area. The Englishman’s shot was fierce and point-blank. Subasic stood up to make a superb reaction save.
On the hour, Wilshere tried to find Cazorla on the far side of the area. The Spaniard battled to recover the ball as he crossed the area and Alexis fired a snap-shot just wide.
However Arsenal could not sustain their momentum and, with just over 15 minutes left, Wenger brought on Gedion Zelalem, Mathieu Flamini and Akpom to enliven his side.
They did so. With ten minutes left Zelalem sent Akpom clear. He skipped past Subasic in the area and was brought down.
In a friendly tournament you can understand why the keeper only got a yellow card however referee Atkinson gave a free-kick on the edge of the area when replays proved the foul was comfortably inside.
It would be Arsenal’s last real chance as Monaco held on.
Final Emirates Cup table
Referee: Martin Atkinson
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