Arsenal rarely needed to get out of second gear as they strolled to a relatively comfortable 2-1 victory over AC Milan in their second fixture of the Dubai Cup.
The possession was Arsenal’s in the opening stages but the Gunners invited plenty of pressure through some sloppy passing out from the back, with Gabriel and goalkeeper Karl Hein almost caught out early on.
Divock Origi nearly opened the scoring for Milan in sensational fashion ten minutes in, turning Rob Holding and unleashing a strike from range which struck the crossbar and went over.
Just as Milan were getting control of proceedings, Martin Odegaard opened the scoring with a direct free-kick which nestled into the bottom corner of Ciprian Tatarusanu’s goal.
Origi should have levelled things up shortly after with a header from a Sandro Tonali cross, but he failed to get his effort on target.
Instead, it was Arsenal who grabbed the game’s second. Reiss Nelson’s deflected strike shortly before the interval wrong-footed Tatarusanu and gave the Gunners a comfortabe lead heading into the break.
After a slow start to the second half, Mohamed Elneny threatened to add a third as his deflected shot, which crashed off Odegaard, looped agonisingly over the bar.
Milan set up a nervy finish to the 90 minutes as Fikayo Tomori leapt highest from a Tonali free-kick to power a header past Hein with around 12 minutes to go.
It was one of very few entertaining moments in the second half, however, and Arsenal strolled to a comfortable victory before turning their attention to the penalty shoot-out for an extra bonus point.
Cedric stepped up first and converted, and the first miss came four penalties in courtesy of Brahim Diaz. Goal after goal followed, before Matt Smith missed Arsenal’s fifth effort to give Milan the chance to tie things up, but Rade Krunic dragged his effort wide to hand the victory to the Gunners.
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GK: Karl Hein – 6/10 – One nervy moment with the ball at his feet early on but had very little to do against a misfiring Milan forward line. Could no nothing about Tomori’s header.
RB: Ben White – 6/10 – Charged forward a lot but ran into the odd cul-de-sac. Didn’t do anything wrong apart from taking an eternity to take a throw-in.
CB: Rob Holding – 5/10 – Given the run-around by Origi in the first half and wasn’t always comfortable on the ball. Nice and vocal.
CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Nice and solid. Not particularly busy.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 5/10 – Got forward very well but looked really uncomfortable in the final third. Some poor cut-backs and questionable decisions.
DM: Thomas Partey – 8/10 – A commanding presence in midfield. Dealt with Milan’s high press well and ran the show at times.
DM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10 – Carried by Partey for large parts of the first half as he failed to get involved in the play. A bit flustered at both ends of the field.
RM: Fabio Vieira – 7/10 – Some really sharp bursts forward. Not always involved but looked dangerous whenever he did get on the ball.
AM: Martin Odegaard – 8/10 – Dictated everything Arsenal did in attack and an excellent free-kick to put the team ahead.
LM: Reiss Nelson – 7/10 – Had some nice moments but wasn’t always involved. Got some luck with his goal but probably deserved it.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 6/10 – Prevented from doing much because Milan defenders kept fouling him whenever he got involved. Perhaps deserves a higher rating because of the fear his presence evidently inspired. Name may or may not be Nikita, according to some commentators.
Cedric (46′ for White) – 6/10 – Spent a lot of time in advanced positions without actually doing much.
Mohamed Elneny (46′ for Partey) – 7/10 – Maintained the composure in midfield after replacing Partey. Another impressive friendly performance.
Marquinhos (74′ for Vieira) – 6/10 – Didn’t do a lot apart from getting assaulted by Tomori.
Nathan Butler-Oyedeji (81′ for Nketiah) – N/A
Amario Cozier-Duberry (81′ for Nelson) – N/A
Lino Sousa (81′ for Tierney) – N/A
Ethan Nwaneri (90′ for Lokonga) – N/A
Matt Smith (90′ for Odegaard) – N/A
Unused: Graczyk, Foran, Walters, Cirjan, Lewis-Skelly, Sagoe Jr.
Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Handed minutes to the players who needed them and was never really tested mentally. Didn’t need anything apart from his basic tactic to get the job done.