EMIRATES STADIUM, LONDON — Arsene Wenger sent his Arsenal team out with several new faces in the starting lineup to face AS Monaco on Sunday in the Emirates Cup, where the Gunners ended as runners up in their own tournament after losing 1-0 to the Ligue 1 outfit.
After a low-key start, Radamel Falcao headed Monaco in front with his first goal since returning from injury, after escaping the attentions of Laurent Koscielny. That was the end of the scoring, and coupled with Valencia's comfortable win over Benfica, it meant the Spanish side won the tournament and Arsenal finished second.
While there were a number of good performances for both sets of players, for Arsenal and Wenger it was new signings Alexis Sanchez and Calum Chambers who provided the biggest rays of light on another day in the north London sunshine.
Calum Chambers at centre-back? That's not what most would have assumed when Arsenal signed the youngster from Southampton, but he was featured there on both days of the Emirates Cup and looked extremely assured against Monaco.
An experience today I will never forget! Thank you to everyone for such a great reception 👏 pic.twitter.com/jekZQy3e1a— Calum Chambers (@CalumChambers95) August 2, 2014
Very composed on the ball and not afraid to stride into midfield in possession, Chambers didn't look out of place when under pressure, and his natural traits were on show with his close control and ability to pick a pass.
Defensively, though, he was similarly impressive: He swept up behind more experienced partner Koscielny twice in the first half when the Frenchman misjudged the ball, and he made one good recovery tackle from a low cross to the near post. His pace was a big feature, too, as he kept Lucas Ocampos' infrequent forays infield in check.
It was an impressive performance from the youngster and—early days though it may be—although he was not dominant aerially, we might have just witnessed the role for which Chambers can seriously challenge on a regular basis in the coming months and seasons.
He played just 45 minutes, but it was more than worthwhile viewing, a sentiment echoed by Jack De Menezes of The Independent.
Commenting on Chambers' performance, De Menezes wrote: "Handled himself well, especially given his belying years, and Arsenal fans are certainly going to enjoy watching the 19-year-old develop at the Emirates."
Alexis from the Right
From the right, but very definitely not a right winger.
Alexis took a starting position on the right side of Arsenal's attack and was quickly involved a number of times down the channel rather than on the touchline.
The tricks and flicks which will endear him to some crowd sections were on display within minutes, but even before that it was his trademark chasing down loose balls, closing down defenders and willingness to challenge those bigger and taller than him both on the deck and aerially, which stood out.
Twice he looked for the early ball through for Olivier Giroud to attack, highlighting the difference in tempo and transition play that he will bring this Gunners side.
Alexis in Attack
The start of the second half saw the Chilean playing as the centre-forward, as Arsenal looked to use his pace and directness as high up the field as possible.
Less than five minutes into the half, a high ball was played forward searching for his run behind the defence, something which isn't usually possible with Giroud in place.
His perseverance saw him get a couple of half-shots away in the second half until he was subbed around the 75-minute mark and, though he didn't have as big or consistent an impact on the ball as in the first half, it was still notable how the dynamic of the Arsenal attack changed once he was on the front foot with the equally pacy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flank.
More used to playing in a two-man attack when as a central forward for Chile, it will be highly interesting to see how Sanchez adapts to the lone striker role if he fills in there for Arsenal with regularity.