Lukas Podolski scored a brace against his old club as Arsenal finished off their pre-season preparations with a convincing 4-0 win over FC Koln at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne.
Thomas Vermaelen opened the scoring just 5 minutes into the game, a header from a nicely worked routine in which Santi Cazorla’s corner was flicked on to the far post by Per Mertesacker. Olivier Giroud then was unlucky not to have scored Arsenal’s second following a number of stunning saves from Timo Horn (the Koln keeper), but Podolski was there to tuck in a penalty and thunder in a shot in a fantastic debut performance. Giroud and Cazorla were not too shabby either. Gervinho, on in the second half, finished the scoring with a neat finish at the near post.
The Arsenal line-up in the first half was very interesting. Olivier Giroud was Arsenal’s target man, with Podolski and Walcott in the wide positions. Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were given quite free roles in midfield, with Francis Coquelin sitting in front of the back four. Per Mertesacker was chosen to partner Thomas Vermaelen at the back, with Gibbs and Yennaris on either side and Vito Mannone in goal. Despite the rumours, Robin van Persie did not start.
The second half saw 10 changes to the team that started. The only player who played in both halves was Lukas Podolski, who was clearly given some extra front in front of the crowd – almost like a testimonial. Robin van Persie did feature for the last 20 minutes, and was even given the captains armband, but it was a slightly lethargic and subdued performance. The only other late change was Maroune Chamakh on for Serge Gnabry. The good news is that Abou Diaby managed to get through another performance unscathed.
Rumours on Twitter suggest that our captain will sign for Manchester United tomorrow for a fee of £25 million, although I cannot stress enough that these are just rumours. There is nothing official from either club.