Arsenal 2 Napoli 2 match report: Oliver Giroud overhead kick sparks Gunners fightback in Emirates Cup clash
Late Laurent Koscielny equaliser sends Arsenal fans home content with the result but crying out for Arsene Wenger to make signings
Saturday 03 August 2013
Arsenal came from two goals behind to draw with Napoli in the opening match of the Emirates Cup.
The Gunners have yet to bring in a marquee summer signing, despite manager Arsene Wenger having a bumper transfer war chest - with Liverpool maintaining Luis Suarez is not for sale after a bid of £40million plus £1 was rejected.
Wenger's faith in his current squad looked questionable after some poor first-half defending allowed Lorenzo Insigne and Goran Pandev to put the Italians in command.
However, an acrobatic goal by France striker Olivier Giroud with 18 minutes left sparked a fightback, with Laurent Koscielny heading in a dramatic late equaliser.
Wenger's side will face Galatasaray tomorrow afternoon, before a final pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Helsinki next weekend.
Fit-again England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who missed the end of season friendly against Brazil because of an ankle injury which needed surgery, was in the starting XI, with Per Mertesacker captain as Thomas Vermaelen continues his recovery from a back problem.
Jose Reina was in goal for the Serie A runners-up after his summer move from Liverpool, while Gonzalo Higuain - a transfer target for Arsenal before he left Real Madrid - was named on the bench by Rafael Benitez, the former Chelsea interim manager.
Arsenal, playing in their new yellow away strip, started brightly and German youngster Serge Gnarby curled his shot wide after a break down the left.
However, it was the Italians took the lead on seven minutes after Carl Jenkinson failed to clear a high pass into the penalty area, his header dropping to Insigne, who swept the loose ball past Lukasz Fabianski.
Reina was almost embarrassed when his poor clearance fell straight to Gnarby, but the midfielder's chip floated over.
After 18 minutes, Arsenal were awarded a penalty when former West Ham full-back Valon Behrami was adjudged by referee Kevin Friend to have tripped Kieran Gibbs.
Lukas Podolski's low spot-kick was, though, saved by Reina.
Napoli doubled their lead after 28 minutes when Macedonia striker Pandev collected a pass into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area before rounding Fabianski and cutting back to drill the ball into the empty net.
Arsenal did rally before the break, with Mertesacker's point-blank header knocked off the line before boos rang out as the players went off down the tunnel.
Argentina forward Higuain replaced Pandev for the second half, handing the home fans a glimpse of what might have been.
There was at least more urgency from Arsenal after the restart, with Wilshere dragging an angled shot across goal.
Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta were all sent on to freshen up the team.
Giroud netted a deflected bicycle kick from Walcott's corner to reduce the arrears with 18 minutes left, and there was a dramatic finale as Koscielny headed in after 86 minutes when Mertesacker's bullet header was saved by Reina.
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