We continued our pre-season preparations with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina in Charlotte. Here's what stood out at Bank of America Stadium:
Eddie Nketiah's nose for goal is hardly news, but he deserves a mention for the way he so coolly dispatched his two opportunities. The first was calmness personified, a deft drag-back to take his marker out of the game, and an unerring finish past Dragowski. The second was simpler but, once again, Eddie knew exactly where to be in the box to take advantage when Mkhitaryan got clear on the right and picked out Lacazette. That's three in two games for Eddie in the US - and he even headed one off the line at the other end.
LACA THE CREATOR
Alex Lacazette came on at half-time but, with Nketiah leading the line, he took up an unfamiliar position - essentially operating as a No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was intriguing to see Laca there and he certainly benefited from the extra space. One run from deep saw Laca set up a chance for Nelson that was well saved, and the same player just missed the target when a shot from Laca himself was pushed aside. Laca unselfishly set up Nketiah's second - their partnership could be one to watch this season - and he got a second assist for Willock late in the game.
Our performance against Bayern in Los Angeles ticked a lot of boxes - it had tempo, speed of movement and quick combinations. A glance at the weather forecast ahead of kick-off in Charlotte was all you needed to know that our second ICC game wouldn't be as intense or fluent. The effort was there but 35 degrees celsius - with a cheeky 50 per cent humidity - choked the life from the game at times. Cooling breaks were taken to keep the players hydrated and they would have been happy to see the sun drop behind the stand early in the second half.
EMI STAKES A CLAIM
Emi Martinez has looked sharp in training here in the United States, and he took his form into this game. The Argentine goalkeeper won his battle with Vlahovic after the Fiorentina striker scampered through on goal, pushing aside his shot before Kolasinac completed the clearance. It was a turning point - we opened the scoring moments later. An even more impressive stop from Sottil kept Emi's clean sheet intact; he was replaced at half-time by Bernd Leno, the man he'll be fighting for a first-team place this season.
A PHYSICAL TEST
It may be pre-season, there might not be much at stake, but this was still a physical test against a battle-hardened Serie A side. Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka were rough-housed in the early stages and Robbie Burton was floored by a challenge that earned Saponara a yellow card - a rarity at this stage of the summer. Our youngsters lost more duels than they won but they stepped up to the challenge: Olayinka gave as good as he got and Burton was unfazed, recording a team-best 90 per cent pass completion in the first half. All the same, this was a test of our youngsters' tenacity, and it's all part of the learning curve.
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