Arsenal traveled to the Toyota Stadium and beat Nagoya Grampus, 3-1.
It was a bit a of a homecoming for Ryo Miyaichi. He played his youth football at Sylphid F.C., based out of Nagoya and likely had a lot of friends and family in attendance.
Arsene Wenger had some experience himself in the Aichi Prefecture, having managed Nagoya before moving to Arsenal. He wasn't going to give any sympathy to his former club, though. Wenger was out to maintain the Gunners' perfect preseason record, after having won their first two friendlies.
It took about 150 seconds for Arsenal to get on the board. Tomas Rosicky found an unmarked Olivier Giroud in the 18-yard box, who headed it powerfully into the goal. It was a great start for the Gunners, and it continues what has been a very good preseason for Giroud. He's now scored six goals in the club's friendlies, per Arsenal's Twitter account.
GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Rosicky swings in a fine cross for Giroud to power home his sixth goal of pre-season (3) 1-0 #NGvAFC— Arsenal.com (@Arsenal) July 22, 2013
Theo Walcott nearly got another for Arsenal just minutes later, but his penalty shout was waved away.
With such a fast start, you might have expected the Gunners to take control and put the game away with another quick goal or two. Instead, Nagoya became much more organized. Arsenal had a very difficult time breaking down the Japanese side.
Although, as Nagoya tried to get out on the attack more, Arsenal were looking better and better on the counter. It was as if the Gunners were just biding their time until the Japanese club bit off a little more than it could chew and exposed itself too much at the back.
That happened in the 25th minute, when Giroud earned a penalty after a very effective Arsenal counter. He was trying to pass it back to Ryo in the 18-yard box, but a sliding Tulio Tanaka was judged to have handled the ball. The referee pointed to the spot, much to the chagrin of Tanaka and the Nagoya players.
Wenger had Ryo take the penalty, and the 20-year-old smashed it into the bottom-left corner. It was a nice moment for the player, as fans from both sides were pleased to see him score.
Walcott got out on the break in the 35th minute after he was played through by a nice ball from Rosicky, but the winger saw his shot saved by the onrushing Seigo Narazaki.
Nagoya created a couple of threatening opportunities late in the first half, but as the Daily Mirror's John Cross reports, the Japanese club didn't do near enough with the chances.
Let off for #afc there. Beautiful pass by Tanaka to Ogawa who scuffed his shot. Still 2-0 as half time whistle blows— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) July 22, 2013
Wenger should have been pleased with the first half. The Gunners were in total control for most of the match and didn't have any major breakdowns on the defensive end.
Perhaps it was because of the four new players on the pitch, but Arsenal looked a little sluggish as the second half began. They were allowing Nagoya too much time and space in the box and handed the Japanese club a couple of golden opportunities. At the other end of the pitch, the Gunners watched a couple of great chances go begging.
After watching his passing and finishing let him down in the final third, Walcott finally found the back of the net. He chipped the ball over the keeper for what was a very good goal. It was an effective run from Walcott down the right and into the box to get on the end of what was a great pass from Gedion Zelalem.
Zelalem caught the attention of Arsenal TV's Adrian Clarke.
Wow, that's another mesmeric eye-of-needle pass by Zelalem for Walcott to score. This boy (at 16) is very, very good.— Adrian Clarke (@adrianjclarke) July 22, 2013
Nagoya finally scored in the 72nd minute. Hayuma Tanaka delivered a great cross from the right that found the head of Kisho Yano. Yano struck it well, and his header found the back of the net despite Lukasz Fabianski getting a touch. It was rather poor defending from Arsenal, as Yano went up unmarked for the header. It was a goal very similar to the one Giroud had scored in the third minute.
This match was clearly Arsenal's toughest of the preseason so far. It was much more than a glorified training session, which is probably better for the club. The players couldn't afford to simply go through the motions. Nagoya were very game opponents and weren't content to just let Arsenal walk all over them. This was a nice early test for the Gunners to get them ready for the league season.
Supporters should also be heartened by the play of Zelalem. The 16-year-old was spraying some beautiful passes and looked mature beyond his years.
Arsenal continue their Asian tour, next taking on Urawa Red Diamonds on Friday, July 26.