5 talking points as Nketiah shines but Arsenal suffer pre-season blow vs Monaco

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Eddie Nketiah scored for Arsenal against Monaco (Image: Getty Images)
Eddie Nketiah scored for Arsenal against Monaco (Image: Getty Images)

Arsenal wrapped up their pre-season campaign with a penalty shootout victory over Monaco after a hard-fought 1-1 draw during normal time.

The Ligue 1 side started the game brightly and opened the scoring at the Emirates Stadium thanks to Youssouf Fofana's 31st-minute header. However, it didn't take the Gunners long to respond as they levelled just before the break through Nketiah's neat close-range finish.

Wissam Ben Yedder missed a golden chance to put Monaco back in front, before Arsenal gained a foothold and created several chances to win the game. Leandro Trossard had arguably the greatest as he burst clean through on goal but was unable to beat Philipp Kohn.

The game ended level and went to penalties to find out who would be lifting the Emirates Cup. Arsenal kept their nerve in the shootout to win the coveted pre-season prize as Gabriel struck the decisive spot-kick in north London. Here are five talking points from the Gunners' final pre-season outing.

Nketiah on the scoresheet

After it was confirmed that Gabriel Jesus would miss the game against Monaco through injury, Nketiah was handed a chance to shine from the start. And it is safe to say the 24-year-old took the opportunity with both hands as he impressed and found the net for the Gunners.

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Having had a couple of early openings, Nketiah was on hand to equalise for the Gunners on the stroke of half-time with what could be described as a 'poachers finish'. The ex-Leeds loanee got on the end of an in swinging corner at the back post, before steering the ball beyond the Monaco goalkeeper.

5 talking points as Nketiah shines but Arsenal suffer pre-season blow vs MonacoEddie Nketiah celebrates after scoring for Arsenal against Monaco (Getty Images)

Defensive mistakes reappear

Despite Arsenal's overall success last season, they did tend to struggle more at home - especially when it came to keeping the ball out of the net. In fact, the Gunners had the joint-leakiest defence at home in the top-nine alongside north London rivals Tottenham.

They shipped 25 goals in their 19 Premier League matches at the Emirates, including two or more against Southampton, Leicester, Brighton and Bournemouth. That is something Arsenal must rectify if they stand any chance of winning the Premier League this season - and they didn't show like they had cut those errors at the back out after conceding a soft goal to Monaco.

5 talking points as Nketiah shines but Arsenal suffer pre-season blow vs MonacoYoussouf Fofana celebrates after giving Monaco the lead (Getty Images)

Martinelli allowed his marker to beat him on the right-hand side, before the Monaco winger crossed the ball into Fofana, who headed the ball into the top corner. But, more worryingly, Fofana was free inside the box to head home. Monaco could have added more in the first-half as the Gunners offered their opponents chances.

First glimpse at new signings

After playing their first five pre-season matches away from the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners returned home for their final friendly. This opened up the chance for the Arsenal faithful to see their three new summer arrivals in north London, with Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber making the starting XI.

Rice showed glimpses of quality throughout and almost scored during the first-half, but was denied by an excellent last-ditch challenge as he was about to pull the trigger. Meanwhile, Timber operated at left-back and did well throughout, linking up with Gabriel Martinelli and Rice on the left-hand side.

5 talking points as Nketiah shines but Arsenal suffer pre-season blow vs MonacoLONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Declan Rice of Arsenal gestures during the pre-season friendly match between Arsenal FC and AS Monaco at Emirates Stadium on August 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Arsenal fans were then handed an opportunity to see Havertz in a red shirt for the first time. The German, who joined the club for £65million from Chelsea in June, came on for the final half an hour alongside the likes of Martin Odegaard and Leandro Trossard. During his time on the pitch, Havertz operated as a no.8.

Wenger returns

Having made his first return back to the Emirates after leaving the club last December, legendary boss Wenger was back, this time where two of his former clubs were in action. Wenger managed Monaco between 1987 and 1994, before going on to manage Nagoya Grampus Eight.

The Frenchman joined Arsenal in 1996 and the move raised eyebrows at the time. But Wenger soon proved the doubters wrong as he helped turn the Gunners into somewhat of a machine, as they went on to claim the 'Invincibles' title by failing to lose a Premier League game in 2002/03.

Wenger departed the North Londoners in 2018 after an illustrious 18-year spell. Despite the success Wenger had at Arsenal, it took him four-and-a-half years to return as he came back for their game against West Ham on Boxing Day last year. And Wenger was also present at the game against Monaco - a day after a statue of the former boss was unveiled outside the stadium.

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Jesus injury blow

Arsenal confirmed before the match that Jesus would not feature after sustaining a knee problem which is due to be assessed. The 26-year-old, who has been excellent in pre-season, is now a doubt for the Community Shield against Manchester City on Sunday.

Jesus missed a large chuck of last season due to a problem with his knee and he will be hoping this one isn't as serious, given he missed over three months of action in 2022/23. Should he miss a sustained period of time, the Gunners could opt to keep Folarin Balogun as the United States international continues to be linked with a move away. Inter Milan are among those chasing the 22-year-old after he scored 22 goals at Reims last season.

Kieran King

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