Takeaways from Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Rangers


Before Saturday’s clash with Rangers, the Gooners probably assumed (and prayed) that it could not get worse after the embarrassing defeat to Hibernian before the season – and thankfully did not.

Arsenal hosted the Scottish champions of Ibrox, and although they fell behind after just 14 minutes, they finished 2-2. Still not ideal, but it’s progress, one way or another.

Goals from new signing Nuno Tavares and striker Eddie Nketiah led the Gunners level on two separate occasions, and coach Mikel Arteta will feel that his players could have won the match, with Hector Bellerin close at the end.

It’s another 90 minutes in the players’ legs as they build up their match fitness before the fast-approaching Premier League promotion. So even if we should not read too deeply about pre-season friendly matches, what did we learn from Arsenal’s tie in Scotland?

Leon Balogun got the opener in Rangers’ pre-season friendly against Arsenal ?? # RFCARS pic.twitter.com/DUvcu9uf0K

– Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) July 17, 2021

We start with a negative, because it was a big, fat negative to draw from this game: Arsenal still can not defend goal play. The Gunners were repulsed by Hibernian from a corner in their 2-1 defeat, and they suffered the same fate against Rangers – twice.

The two goals arrived symmetrically, the first hit home from a swinging corner from the left and the second meeting the same end from the right.

Both Leon Balogun and Cedric Itten were awarded free, undisputed headlines inside the six-yard box, which frankly you should not let happen even once. Let’s hope Premier League clubs have not discovered this weakness.

? “I’m good at shooting with my right foot.”

Can you say that again, Nuno? pic.twitter.com/kEllEYfXdz

– Arsenal (@Arsenal) 17 July 2021

However, it was not all doom and gloom. A bright spark was the performance of the new signing Nuno Tavares, who offered bags of energy on the left flank.

The defender even lost his first Arsenal start with a goal, anticipating a decline from Rangers right-back, muscled up his man and went in before curling clinically into the far corner.

In terms of first impressions, this was really a good one from Tavares. More of the same, please.

Short sleeves. Low socks.

One of our own.

❤️ @emilesmithrowe pic.twitter.com/iSc5174Pj3

– Arsenal (@Arsenal) 17 July 2021

Aston Villa have tested Arsenal’s opposition with some big bids for Emile Smith Rowe, and the Gunners rely on the attacking midfielder to hold on to his roots.

Arteta has made it clear this pre-season that the 20-year-old is an important part of his plans, and he is repaying the Spaniard with some exciting performances.

Smith Rowe was electric against the Rangers and showed bags of confidence, courage to hit his marker, quick feet and a turn to get rid of his husband. The child is ready to take the Premier League by storm next year.

He should have had a Hattrick / Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images

While Smith Rowe steps on the plate, it’s not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal striker should have scored a hat-trick in the first half, but he rejected every chance that fell to him.

The 32-year-old was far too relaxed when he knocked on the return from a dazzling Smith Rowe run and strike, allowing a desperate Rangers defender to fly back and block his determined effort.

Aubameyang’s form last season was a cause for concern, and if there is anything to go on before the season, he has yet to address these issues.

Anticipation. Quiet. Accuracy.

❄️ @ EddieNketiah9 pic.twitter.com/eAmBagl6y9

– Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 18, 2021

While one striker flops, another blossoms. Eddie Nketiah must make a name for himself this season, otherwise he may find his Arsenal career too early.

The 22-year-old showed Aubameyang how it is done on Saturdays and demonstrated a will and a desire to prove his worth to Arteta by grabbing the late equalizer.

The goal worked great, to win the ball back in the area, cut inside, hit his man and shoot stealthily inside the near post. That’s it, Eddie!

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