Arsenal lose, but no need to panic
(Radamel Falcao 37)
After the fun of battering Benfica, the mundanity of losing to Monaco.
The suggestion that expectations might be unrealistically raised by a successful Emirates Cup weekend is now a moot point.
Arsenal's defeat handed the trophy to Valencia, who beat Benfica 3-1 in the day's opening game. There is certainly no danger of over-excitement now.
This, of course, is as it should be. Pre-season tournaments, no matter how glitzy, are not to be taken too seriously.
Whether they are held in front of six-figure crowds in the United States or small clutches of locals in the non-league backwaters, they remain little more than glorified training sessions. With the new season just a fortnight away, few Arsenal players were inclined to risk injury in pursuit of a bauble.
One of those few, however, was new signing Alexis Sanchez, who tore around the pitch with far more enthusiasm than the occasion demanded and was rewarded with a standing ovation when he was withdrawn towards the end yesterday.
Deployed as a centre forward for his short appearance last Saturday, this time Sanchez started on the right flank, hoping to make use of Olivier Giroud's knockdowns.
Unfortunately for both men, that plan was a non-starter. Giroud can, on occasion, look like the perfect 21st-century target man.
This was not one of those occasions. The Frenchman was quietly withdrawn at the break. Sanchez returned to the centre.
"He was not ready at all," admitted Wenger.
Sanchez does seem to be ready. As most already knew, he is a phenomenal talent, forced to leave Barcelona purely because there was an unnecessary surplus of phenomenal talent.
With his tireless endeavour, his deft touch and his speed of thought, he will be a welcome addition to the Gunners.
While Arsenal fans saw the first start of their new hero, the Monaco supporters may have seen the final showing of theirs.
Radamel Falcao's recovery from cruciate injury continued as he made his first start after nearly nine months out with injury and it was the Colombian who scored the winner.
Arsenal were guilty of leaving the striker completely unmarked at a Joao Moutinho free-kick and he made no mistake, nodding the cross home.
It could have been even worse for Arsenal. Jack Wilshere was fortunate to stay on the field after he clattered Nabiul Dirar just outside the box.
Referee Martin Atkinson chose to show only a yellow card. In the Premier League, it would almost certainly have been a red. As it was, Falcao's goal from the resultant set-piece proved an appropriate punishment.
Any suggestions that Atkinson favoured the home side were certainly quashed in the closing stages, when he booked Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and awarded a free-kick for an obvious trip on Chuba Akpom inside the penalty area.
Arsenal's supporters were incensed. The misbegotten free-kick was wasted. And, with that, the Emirates Cup slipped away.
"As much as our performance yesterday was sharp, creative, dynamic and mobile," lamented Wenger, "today was static, lethargic and not convincing at all. Many players have not recovered physically and are not completely ready."
They will have to be ready soon. This Sunday, they face Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
The Emirates Cup was just a warm-up. The real season starts now.