Post-Match Report

MLS All-Stars 1-2 Arsenal - Report

Joel Campbell scores against MLS All-Stars

MLS All-Stars -

Avaya Stadium
Friendly Match
Friendly Match
  MLS All-Stars
      
              Didier Drogba (45)
          
   crest
MLS All-Stars
Didier Drogba (45)
1 2
  Arsenal
      
                  Joel Campbell (11)
                   Chuba Akpom (87)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Joel Campbell (11)
Chuba Akpom (87)

By Josh James at Avaya Stadium

Summary

A late Chuba Akpom goal gave Arsenal victory in an entertaining MLS All-Star match.

The showpiece game looked to be heading to penalties after Didier Drogba - so often the scourge of Arsenal in the past - had equalised Joel Campbell's penalty on the stroke of half-time.

But young striker Akpom, who replaced Theo Walcott up front in the second half, turned home from close range to give the Gunners the spoils.

Catch up on our tour of the US:

Earlier Campbell scored from the spot after he himself was fouled in the box.

Arsenal's lead lasted until the 45th minute when Drogba netted at the third attempt after his initial strikes were kept out by Petr Cech and debutant Rob Holding.

Setting the Scene

San Jose, California was the picturesque setting for Arsenal's first appearance in the annual, prestigious MLS All-Star match.

New signing Rob Holding took his place at the heart of the defence on his Gunners debut, while Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech were involved from the start for their first pre-season action of the summer.

 

 

Rob Holding representing Arsenal for the first time

Rob Holding representing Arsenal for the first time

 

 

Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin, having enjoyed extended breaks after travelling to France for the Euros, were among the 10 named substitutes. The only two members of the tour squad not involved at all were Santi Cazorla and David Ospina.

The MLS All-Stars - who beat Tottenham 2-1 in this fixture last year - were able to include former World Player of the year Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and long-time Arsenal nemesis Drogba in their team. Former Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey was on the bench.

First Half

Fireworks, DJ sets, the national anthem and a fly over preceded the kick off, and the capacity crowd were suitably revved up by the time Arsenal got the game underway.

A loose pass from Pirlo gave the Gunners the first chance inside three minutes. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pounced on the mistake before teeing up Theo Walcott, who shot wide from 15 yards.

Walcott, playing up front, had the next chance too - a low free-kick comfortably dealt with by Andre Blake.

Cech saved from Giovani Dos Santos at the other end in an open, free-flowing first 10 minutes.

Arsenal's positive start was rewarded with the opening goal moments later. Campbell got to the ball ahead of Blake, lifted it over the keeper but was hauled down by Laurent Ciman when in on goal.

The Costa Rica striker confidently struck home the resulting penalty himself.

 

 

Joel Campbell in action against MLS All-Stars

Joel Campbell in action against MLS All-Stars

 

 

Walcott shot tamely when through on goal and Oxlade-Chamberlain fizzed an effort wide as the visitors began to dominate.

The All-Stars' attacking players were allowing plenty of space in the midfield, and Mohamed Elneny was next to exploit it, forcing Blake into a good save from his 20-yard drive.

The heat was beginning to take its toll on the players as the half wore on, and the pace dropped slightly.

With the last kick of the half, Drogba brought the Americans level.

Dos Santos had time to find the former Chelsea man in the box and he scored at the third attempt. Cech blocked his first shot, then Holding cleared off the line but Drogba would not be denied.

Second Half

Xhaka was one of five players introduced by Arsenal at half-time, but it was one of the All-Stars' subs, Sebastian Giovinco, who so nearly made it 2-1. After some nifty footwork in the box his shot was kept out by a fantastic reaction save from Cech.

The intensity had noticeably dropped and chances were scarce in the second half.

Arsène Wenger made five more changes as the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed.

Xhaka, who was seeing plenty of the ball, showed his shooting prowess with a couple of long-range efforts with his left foot. The second was a direct free-kick thumped into the keeper's midriff.

The winner came with three minutes remaining. Nacho Monreal's low, fired cross was on a plate for Akpom to tuck home.

Job done for the Gunners, and the USA tour concludes against Chivas in Los Angeles on Sunday.