Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted that his side was still short of fitness after they lost 1-0 to Monaco in the Emirates Cup friendly tournament.
Having routed Benfica 5-1 on Saturday, Arsenal fell to a solitary Radamel Falcao goal the following day, leaving Wenger to brand their performance “static, lethargic, and not convincing at all”.
Wenger explained that he had removed Olivier Giroud at half-time because the French striker was ‘not ready at all’.
In addition, Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are all guaranteed to miss the start of the season after their World Cup-winning exploits with Germany, but Wenger says his side still have time to get in shape.
“I’m not especially concerned; it’s part of pre-season,” Wenger told a post-game press conference.
“It’s a good warning for us that we’re not completely ready physically.”
Asked if Arsenal will be ready for the showdown against Manchester City in the Community Shield this Sunday, Wenger replied, “We will be. And Man City may be as well.”
Falcao’s goal was his first since he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a French Cup game in January, which forced him to miss the World Cup.
The 28-year-old Colombian has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid, and while Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim described him as ‘indispensable’, he also conceded that “anything is possible, especially in the transfer window”.
Referee killed the match, says Mourinho
Chelsea slumped to their first pre-season defeat on Sunday as they were beaten 3-0 by Werder Bremen in Germany to spoil the return of Didier Drogba and the debut of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Blues captain John Terry conceded a soft penalty after 20 minutes when he needlessly blocked the ball with his arm and Dutch winger Eljero Elia stepped up to plant his spot-kick past Belgian ‘keeper Courtois, who has joined up with Chelsea after a long-term loan at Atletico Madrid.
“We came here and the referee thought it was a circus for Bremen fans to have fun and he killed the match,” said manager Jose Mourinho.
Bremen won a second penalty in the last minute when Dutch defender Nathan Ake was punished for what appeared to be a fair challenge but it didn’t matter to Felix Kroos, who stroked the ball past substitute ‘keeper Petr Cech from 12 yards.
“Every duel and free-kick went against us, the penalties, especially the last one, were nonsense. Being aggressive with Ake, an 18-year-old, was disappointing. We wanted to train but the referee didn’t let us have a good session,” added the coach.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2014.
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