Super Eagles youngster, Alex Iwobi put up a good show for Arsenal in their 1-1 draw with French Ligue 2 side RC Lens on Friday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoyed the perfect return to action as he
arrived in the nick of time to mark his first appearance in five months
with a sublime goal. It was the Gunners’ first visit to Lens since 1998,
when Arsène Wenger’s men also recorded a 1-1 draw – in the club’s first
ever Champions League game. The Stade Bollaert-Delelis has been fully
renovated since then, and was used as one of the Euro 2016 venues.
It has been a long road back for the England international, who was
robbed of a place at Euro 2016 when he suffered a setback in May, but he
went some way to banishing his frustrations with a 45-minute cameo in a
1-1 draw with Lens that will have thrilled Arsene
Wenger. Oxlade-Chamberlain had not kicked a ball in public since he
collided with Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano during a Champions League
last-16 game in February but there was no sign of rustiness as he
produced a glorious chip to cancel out Mathias Autret’s first half
The closest they came to a goal before half-time was through Alex
Iwobi, a player of whom much will be heard over the next 12 months, yet
his terrific right-foot strike curled just wide; Walcott had a couple of
surges down the right but couldn’t find the final ball.
Wenger made six changes at half-time, moving Theo Walcott up front,
with Gnabry and Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide. Iwobi dropped into midfield
and released Campbell with a lovely throughball, but the Costa Rican
had strayed just offside. Just after the hour mark substitute goalkeeper
Matt Macey had to be alert to acrobatically turn Benjamin Bourigeaud’s
long range effort over the bar. But Arsenal were starting to dominate
Walcott had the ball in the net but was flagged offside when he was
put through by Campbell, then had a low shot turned wide before he was
replaced by Willock.
Arsenal had been made to work hard all evening by the hosts, but when
the goal arrived it was worth the wait. Gnabry wriggled free of his man
to slide the ball through to Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right wing.
The England man was cool and collected in front of goal, lifting the
ball over Nicolas Douchez. The players depart for the States on Monday
looking to step up their preparations for the new campaign.