Arsenal won their second pre-season warm up against the Western Sydney Wanderers by 3 goals to 1 and are slowly building their fitness as they head off to China for some much harder games. They may have been only against A-League sides but Wenger was more than pleased with the attitude of the players.
He said after the match: “I felt that we did very well in the first half against an opposition that made it physical for us. They left always something in, and they pushed us to go into the challenges. Overall the first half was very positive, we played at a good pace, very fluent, technically very good and with the right intensity. Our target was to maintain that as long as we could.
“We dropped a bit in the second half because most of the players have had five days’ training. It was quite amazing how well they did. When the other team came on we got an impulse again and dominated. Unfortunately we couldn’t score but we hit the post twice and created chances. It’s a bit similar to what we have seen against Sydney FC – they defend with heart. This team looks a bit more physical and a bit more ready, more advanced physically than the opposition we had the other night.”
The support in Australia has been amazing, and judging by the turnout I don’t think it will be another 40 years before Arsenal make another tour down under. Wenger was very impressed. “I must say tonight that 84,000 people… in two games we have over £160,000 people in Australia. It makes us realise how big the support is here in Australia, and how much people love football and sport here. It’s absolutely amazing.”
So now they are off to China where we face Bayern Munich on Wednesday, and Chelsea next Saturday, and we will be hoping to continue our long winning run against a couple of the best teams in Europe. I can’t wait to see them, and of course we should be just a bit fitter than these Australian games. This is what Wenger feels about these coming games: “What I expect from China is that we play against opponents who are certainly as well in preparation, it will be less robust physically but as well of course you play against teams who have top quality going forward as well.
“We will have to share better our focus on defending and attacking. In the last two games we focused a lot on attacking. Apart from that we will play as well in a different climate. It will be very hot, so we have to adapt to that as well.”
Hot is not the word! The temperatures are in the high thirties at the moment and extremely humid. This will be a real test of endurance but don’t expect the players to be running quite as much next week.
Onwards and Upwards!