Dubai Super Cup: Arsenal clinch title

Two wins from as many appearances ensured that the Gunners finish at the top of the heap in the four-match, four-team tournament at Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium with eight points

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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AC Milan's Malick Thiaw (left) in action with Arsenal's Amario Cozier-Duberry. — Reuters
AC Milan's Malick Thiaw (left) in action with Arsenal's Amario Cozier-Duberry. — Reuters

Published: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 12:02 AM

While the big dream is to win the English Premier League for the first time in 18 years, Arsenal did well to stay focused on immediate targets like winning the Dubai Super Cup 2022.

Two wins from as many appearances ensured that the Gunners finish at the top of the heap in the four-match, four-team tournament at Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium with eight points, which included two bonus points for winning the end-of-match penalty shootouts.

The Premier League leaders outplayed Lyon 3-0 in the opening game of the tournament before the French picked themselves up to upend Liverpool 3-1 (5-3 on penalties). On Monday, Arsenal beat AC Milan 2-1 (4-3 on penalties).

The Rossoneri will take on Liverpool in Friday’s concluding game of a tournament which was devised to help European teams to stay match-fit during the mid-season Winter break.

Arsenal have genuine hopes of winning the Premier League for the first time since the 2003-2004 season having made a solid start to the campaign with 12 wins from 14 matches to sit pretty at the top of the table, five points clear of Manchester City.

It is the first time since the 2007-2008 season that the North London outfit will spend Christmas Day as the outright leaders of the Premier League, the world’s most watched competition which is broadcast to an estimated audience of close to 5 million people.

Arsenal last won the Premier League in 2004 but the team’s Spanish coach Mikel Arteta will be happy with the nosiness end of the Dubai training camp where his squad held their own during a sustained second-half onslaught by the Italians who managed to pull one back through a brilliant Fikayo Tomori header following a scathing free-kick from Sandro Tonali in the 78th minute of the game.

Milan’s Bosnian midfielder came dangerously close to forcing the match into sudden death but was just off the mark with his attempt on goal.

Arsenal’s attacking midfield, Fabio Vieira, who had a good game, worked his way through the Italian side’s defence before telegraphing the ball to Nelson whose powerful first-timer was always going to find its intended target, despite some flying limbs.

Earlier, Martin Odegaard opened the scoring for Arsenal when he cleared the free-kick wall and sent his shot into the near top corner of the net well out of reach of Milan’s flat-footed Romanian keeper Ciprian Tătărușanu.

The English side kept the pressure on their opponents with deft passes and control of the midfield before they went 2-0 up when Reiss Nelson scored with the help of a big deflection.

Although they appeared to ease thing up a bit Arsenal showed just why they have recorded five wins from their last six matches and must now fancy themselves of having a real shot at Premiership glory.

The Gunners travel back to the UK where they will play Juventus in another friendly at the Emirates Stadium next weekend before they engage West Ham United (16th in the table) in a Boxing Day clash.

On the other hand Milan have scored three wins, one loss and a draw from their four recent fixtures.

Several players who were in Qatar on World Cup duty have now rejoined the squad in Dubai before they board a plane to Heathrow.

Milan’s Pierre Kalulu summed up Tuesday’s match when he told Dubai Sports Channel: “Obviously we wanted to win this, but we should be happy with the way we played against a top team like Arsenal.

“We’ve got a lot to work on before we resume the league but there are areas in which we think we have improved so that’s a good sign.”


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