Yes it is only pre-season and Arsenal fans will probably not be placing too much importance on anything that happens in these games before the proper business of the Premier League begins in a couple of weeks. The fact that the Gunners also won every match of our last pre-season preparations and then beat Chelsea in the Community Shield before suffering a shock home defeat to West Ham in the first EPL game has certainly taught us caution.
Having said that, we should not ignore what happens in pre-season completely and it is, of course, always better to play well and win than play badly and lose. So after coming through a tough opener against a much fitter and more complete Lens last week, I think we should all agree with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in being very happy and perhaps a little surprised by the win over the MLS All-Stars yesterday.
The American league is in full swing, for one thing, and our very under strength squad of not match ready players managed to beat the best of them, something that the Ox told Arsenal Media that he thinks was a big shock to the All-Stars side which included massive talents like Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and our long time nemesis Didier Drogba.
Chamberlain said, “It was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be. I’ve just understood what the All-Star week is here. We hear about it in the NBA and the NFL but I’ve never seen it in the MLS. For us to be a part of it was really nice. It was a big occasion before the match, they had some world-class players on their team and it was an honour to play on the same pitch as some of those guys. It was a really good occasion and a great pre-season game.
“It’s good to play in front of people that want to see you perform as well as you can. Some games in pre-season can be a bit slow and in the heat today, it was a bit like that at times. But at the same time, there was some really sharp football, some quick passing. That’s always going to happen with those sorts of players. Fixtures like this are great for us building up to the Premier League.
“When the ref gave the penalty, I heard someone on their team saying “ref, it’s the MLS All-Star game, why are you going to ruin it for us?” I looked at him and thought, ‘You lot don’t usually lose this game, do you?’ It seemed like they thought it was going to be a set-up win for them but we came here to win. The manager wanted us to play the game properly and get the right result. We need to get into winning habits. It was a good opposition for us and we wanted to come out on top. We’re happy to have done that but, more importantly than that, it’s always good for fitness. It’s not usually like this at home with the heat, it was hard work but I thought Rob and Granit were brilliant. Some of the young lads were too, so all round, it was a positive day for us.”
While I do not think that the Arsenal fans and players especially need to keep our feet on the ground and not get too bullish about this one game, it certainly is a big positive and one more step towards the Gunners getting off to a good start when it really counts.