Arsenal 5 PSG 1: Gunners star in International Champions Cup clash as Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Rob Holding and Eddie Nketiah get on score sheet

IT is slowly starting to dawn on Arsenal’s underachievers that the days of doing just enough are over.

Unai Emery might be all smiles in public but behind the closed doors of the dressing-room he is already proving to be a tough task-master.

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil opened the scoring in the 13th minute against Paris Saint-Germain
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Ozil, 29, celebrates with team-mate Pierre-Ermerick Aubameyang following a deadly counter-attack

The grim look on the faces of many of the Arsenal squad as they left the Singapore national stadium suggested that even a 4-1 win against the French Champions was not enough to satisfy their new head coach.

Emery was not fooled by an impressive scoreline against a PSG team missing almost all of its best players.

And while he could not fail to be impressed with the slick inter-passing of Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, he was not so happy with his team’s commitment to their defensive duties.

It is clear that Ozil is seriously going to have to change his ways if he is going to stay on the right side of his demanding Spanish boss.

Gunners boss Unai Emery will be impressed by what he saw from his players
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Former Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon starred between the sticks in the opening period for PSG
Former Manchester United ace Henrikh Mkhitaryan went close in the first half for Arsenal

For years under the indulgent Arsene Wenger, the lavishly gifted German has been all but excused stuff like tracking back, closing down opponents and putting a boot in with any real intent.

But now he is expected to put in a shift like all his team-mates while still supplying the artistry and defence-splitting passes which have become his trademark.

In Ozil’s defence, he only returned to pre-season training last Monday and has three weeks’ less fitness work in the tank than most of his colleagues.

The former German international might be everybody’s idea of a natural leader, particularly if your name is Uli Hoeness.

Summer signing Matteo Guendouzi once again impressed for the North London club
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Christopher Nkunku equalised from the penalty spot after Sead Kolasinac gave away the spot-kick
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Young midfielder Nkunku reacts after levelling up the scores in Singapore

Yet he was clearly encouraged by being handed the captain’s armband for the first time in his Arsenal career and was quick to repay Emery’s show of faith.

It was his tidy 13th minute finish which set Arsenal on their way as he sidefooted past Gianluigi Buffon following good link play between Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang.

He probably should have had a first-half penalty as well after he was clattered from behind Antoine Bernede.

But referee Nathan Chan Rong De was probably wary of being too generous after he was spotted getting Ozil to autograph his yellow card before the game.

Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi were all denied by the veteran Buffon as Arsenal turned the screw during a dominant first-half performance.

Their speed of passing and movement made it almost impossible to figure out exactly what formation they were playing.

At times it was 4-4-2, at others it looked like a 4-2-3-1 and sometimes it even seemed to be 4-3-3.

“Without the ball we had two forwards pressing, but when we had possession we had Matteo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny as a two and Mesut and Mkhitaryan drifting inside between the lines,” Emery explained.

Yet he was perturbed by the way his team allowed an under-strength PSG to edge their way back into the game.

And he certainly wasn’t impressed by Sead Kolasinac’s clumsy challenge on Timothy Weah which allowed Christopher Nkunku to level from the spot after an hour.

That was the signal for Emery to withdraw most of his big-name stars and replace them with a bunch of shadow players eager to make their mark.

The response was almost immediate, with two goals inside four minutes from Alexandre Lacazette reasserting Arsenal’s control before a late looping header from Rob Holding confirmed the win.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette helped himself to a quickfire double against the Ligue 1 champions

Rob Holding made it 4-1 in the 87th minute after getting on the end of Reiss Nelson’s corner

With the big kick-off against Manchester City now just two weeks away, most of Arsenal’s team already have had the benefit of the best part of a full month’s preparation work.

And PSG boss Thomas Tuchel is convinced that will give the Gunners a major head start in the first weeks of the new season.

He pointed out: “Two years ago Chelsea had few international players during the summer and they became Premier League Champions. It’s a big advantage.

“When I was the manager of Mainz I always wanted to play the big teams early on after the European Championships or the World Cup.

Holding celebrates after looping in an exquisite header into the top corner
Eddie Nketiah sealed the win deep into stoppage time with a clinical low strike into the bottom corner
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“Sometimes we would have six weeks pre-season and be raring to go while the opponents were only just returning to training.

“The World Cup is going to have a big impact on the big teams and it’s a major problem which is almost impossible to handle.

“Arsenal are a big club with big players and they are going to benefit from having nearly all of their best players here in Asia.

“Can they challenge for the title? I guess so, but it’s the toughest challenge in Europe to win the Premier League.

“But I think they will fight their way back into the top four.”


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