FT: Nagoya Grampus 1 Arsenal 3

Thanks for joining me today - we'll be back with another Arsenal commentary on Friday morning.

Highlights of this game for me were Aaron Ramsey's mature display in midfield, the enthusiasm of the crowd whenever Ryo Miyaichi got on the ball, the improving centre-back partnership between Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker and the second-half vision of 16-year-old Gedion Zelalem.

Arsenal move on now to another friendly against Urawa Red Diamonds at the Saitama Stadium on Friday - that's also due to kick off at 11.30am BST.

In the first half, Olivier Giroud and local favourite Ryo Miyaichi put Arsenal two goals to the good. Then Theo Walcott netted after the break. A consolation goal for Kisho Yano gave Grampus something to shout about.

It's all over - Arsenal win 3-1 against Nagoya Grampus in the Toyota Stadium in Japan.

Into stoppage time now - there won't be much of it to play.

A shot from Zelalem is high and wide, but the build-up play involved a quality flick reverse pass from Gnabry.

An easy save for Fabianski from Isomura's low effort. That was a decent break from Grampus, but wasted with the final shot on goal.

The game's being played at a very slow pace now as we wind down towards the final whistle. Arsenal happy to keep the ball for long periods before trying to carve open a half-chance.

@kaiyemomisirere wants me to mention Gedion Zelalem again! I'm happy to, he's got tremendous composure on the ball and can spot a pass like few others of his age - we must remember he's only 16, but those Fabregas comparisons do not look ridiculous by any means. Of German and Ethiopian heritage, he's apparently trying to get a US passport so he can play for their national team.

More Grampus changes - goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki and defender Tulio Tanaka go OFF, and Yoshinari Takagi and Yusuke Muta come ON.

Superb vision from Zelalem again, teasing through a clever pass for Akpom to have a shot inside the box but he skews it wide.

Ryota Isomura ON for Nagoya Grampus, replacing the Colombian Danilson.

A decent passage of play for the hosts ends in a goal - it was Tanaka's cross from the right, and the ball was headed home by striker Kisho Yano.

GOAL! Nagoya Grampus 1 (Yano 72) Arsenal 3

Walcott and Ramsey make way for Aneke and Akpom midway through the second half.

Couple of Arsenal changes imminent - Aneke and Akpom coming on.

Narazaki is alert to the danger presented by the Wilshere - Walcott combination again - he's out swiftly to block the winger's shot.

Wilshere intercepts as Grampus work the ball into the area. Arsenal's counter-attacking has been so fast tonight, and Ramsey makes a lung-bursting run down the other end.

Macedonian striker Nikola Jakimovski is one of the changes for Grampus - he should improve their aerial threat.

A good move from Grampus, Fujimoto caused Miquel problems and then Tanaka crossed from the right to Tamada - but Fabianski claims the header.

And that's Gibbs' final act of the match - he's replaced by Ignasi Miquel.

Gibbs strikes a first-time left-footed volley from Walcott's cross from the right, but the ball hits the side-netting. Many in the stadium thought it was in!

That's a cool finish from Walcott, dinking the ball home from close range, but the best bit was Zelalem's pass to release him into space in the box.

GOAL! Nagoya Grampus 0 Arsenal 3 (Walcott 55)

Gnabry does well to keep in Ramsey's lofted pass to the left wing, then does even better to cut inside into the box and take a shot from a wide position - it's off target though. Classy play from the teenager though.

Wilshere's ball into Walcott is beautiful, and the winger takes it on his knee before hitting a volley that's well saved by Narazaki.

Keiji Tamada sees a shot blocked by Mertesacker on the edge of the box.

After a good save by Fabianski to intercept a cross, a mix-up between the Pole and Mertesacker almost lets Kennedy in but the ball sails over the bar.

Josh Kennedy wins the header from the corner, but his flicked effort amid a crowd of players goes wide.

Jenkinson heads away a right-wing cross, then blocks a Danilson shot - ball out for a corner.

Podolski, Wilshere, Gnabry and Zelalem all ON for Arsenal. Miyaichi, Arteta, Giroud and Rosicky subbed OFF.

We're underway again. Arsenal leading 2-0, can they go on to rack up another big score?

We're about to restart in Toyota Stadium. Substitution details coming up...

The Sagna centre-back experiment is also currying favour amongst many of you. @kaiyemomisirere on Twitter says: "So far this Arsenal team is showing some understanding. Sagna is looking it @ CB. Hope they can take this straight into the season."

Both Ngele Kilonzo on email and @HarleyBourne1 on Twitter are thinking about Arsene Wenger's striker search in the light of Giroud's form. Ngele says "Giroud might tempt Wenger not to buy by his goal-scoring ease" while Harley says "he could be one to worry about next season, but Wenger still needs to sign big players."

"Arsenal played a good pace in the first half. Rambo is getting better and better. Giroud 6 goals in 110 min" - that's the views of Ramlakshman on email. Ramsey is really making an impact in pre-season, seems more aggressive and dynamic than last season - and confident on the ball too.

Thanks to @footballmcd who has got in touch via Twitter to say: "Not sure that the two at the back Grampus are often left with is working!" They can't handle Walcott's pace (who can?) but I've been impressed with how Giroud has pulled them out of position too. This is a better standard of opposition than Arsenal have faced previously on tour, but the Gunners have made them look ordinary.

It'd be great to hear your half-time thoughts on the Arsenal performance thus far. Drop me an email at jon.holmes@bskyb.com or tweet me at @jonboy79.

No first-half stoppage time is played - it's Nagoya Grampus 0 Arsenal 2 at the break.

And then Ogawa is presented with an even better opportunity as Tanaka - who gave away the penalty - plays a defence-splitting pass which takes out Jenkinson. But Ogawa gets the shot all wrong, lacking any real power.

A great chance for Ogawa, who was free at the far post as the cross came in from the left but his downward header is tame and Fabianski scoops it up.

Into the final five minutes of the first half now, and Arsenal are moving the ball around neatly outside the Grampus penalty area. Eventually Fujimoto is able to intercept and Narazaki can clear.

Kennedy is just offside after a clever flick from Ogawa. That was almost a route in behind the Arsenal rearguard.

The Colombian midfielder Danilson is not shy to have a strike from long range, but that was a hopeless effort - and Stojkovic looks mildly exasperated.

Narazaki saves with his feet, just as Walcott looked set to score from Rosicky's pass. Perhaps the Arsenal forward could have lifted the ball over the goalkeeper, but it was a fine stop.

Sagna looks the part at centre-back today, heading clear a dangerous Grampus attack. Arsenal break so quickly, and Giroud almost creates an opening for Walcott.

Narazaki flapping at a corner, but Grampus survive on this occasion.

Ramsey's outstanding ball control was worthy of a mention in the first tour game in Jakarta, and he's at it again tonight. Lovely balance from the Welshman.

In the build-up to the penalty, there was some excellent interplay between Walcott and Giroud down the right wing. Giroud showed he was no slouch either to get into the box and force the error from Tanaka.

The local hero Miyaichi takes the spot-kick, and shoots accurately to the right of Seigo Narazaki to double the lead. Too much power on the shot for the 37-year-old former Japan goalkeeper.

GOAL! Nagoya Grampus 0 Arsenal 2 (Ryo Miyaichi pen 26)

Perhaps a little harsh, but it was a handball offence by Tulio Tanaka after Giroud's touch. Miyaichi to take...


Rosicky is spraying passes around - lots of invention from the Czech midfielder too - and Aaron Ramsey is looking strong alongside him, winning back possession when required.

Midway through the first half, and Arsenal have struggled to make too many in-roads on the Grampus goal since Giroud nodded in from Rosicky's cross early on.

Frustration for Miyaichi, who was trying to play Giroud into space but a misunderstanding allowed Narazaki to gather the ball.

Sagna makes a timely clearance, tackling the ball away as Kennedy looked to slip clear of the defence.

Rosicky, who set up Giroud's goal, smashes an ambitious right-foot shot from long range. The ball sails harmlessly wide and over.

Grampus captain Narazaki claims Walcott's corner, and the ball is back with the hosts who are enjoying a good spell of possession.

The J-League hosts have found their feet now, with Dragan Stojkovic urging them on from the touchline. The former Yugoslavia international was a player at the club under Wenger, before becoming coach in 2008.

Arsenal have hit seven goals in both of their previous Asian Tour friendlies to date - against an Indonesian All-Stars side and then the Vietnam national team. Can they hit seven again today? Although they're in front very early on here, it seems unlikely.

By the way, you can get in touch with me at jon.holmes@bskyb.com or on Twitter at @jonboy79.

Sagna was disappointed with Arsenal's attempt to clear and Danilson swiftly sends a shot back in, only to see it deflected wide of goal.

And it's Miyaichi who almost doubles Arsenal's lead. Gibbs crosses in from the left, and the ball eventually falls for Miyaichi to have an effort which flies across goal - but his shot goes just past the far post.

So a fast start from the Gunners, against a Nagoya Grampus side that currently sits 12th in the 18-team J-League. Big cheers whenever local hero Ryo Miyaichi gets on the ball for the visitors.

Straight after the restart, Arsenal win the ball back and Walcott sprints into the area before going to ground. That could have been a penalty.

Tomas Rosicky delivers a superb cross from the right-wing and Olivier Giroud is there to nod home his sixth goal of pre-season. What a start for Arsenal!

GOAL! Nagoya Grampus 0 Arsenal 1 (Giroud 3)

Arsenal are in their traditional red and white home kit, with Nagoya Grampus in black shirts and shorts with red socks.

And we're underway at Toyota Stadium...

Bacary Sagna is again partnering Per Mertesacker in central defence, with Carl Jenkinson at right-back.

Australia striker Josh Kennedy leads the line for Nagoya. They also have veteran goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki in their starting line-up, and former Colombia midfielder Danilson.

Arsene Wenger was manager of Nagoya Grampus from 1995 to 1996, before he took the Arsenal job. They have since dropped the 'Eight' from their name. Their manager now is Dragan Stojkovic.

This is the first of two games Arsenal will play in Japan. On Friday, they take on Urawa Red Diamonds.

Arsenal bench v Nagoya Grampus: Martinez, Miquel, Wilshere, Olsson, Aneke, Gnabry, Eisfeld, Zelalem, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Akpom.

Arsenal starting XI v Nagoya Grampus: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey, Ryo Miyaichi, Giroud, Walcott.

Welcome to our live coverage of Arsenal's latest pre-season friendly. Today, the Gunners meet Nagoya Grampus at the 45,000-capacity Toyota Stadium in Japan.

Live updates will appear here...


Saturday, 30 May 2015
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