Saliba impresses as Arsenal cruise to friendly win at MK Dons
Gunners warm-up for Saturday's Community Shield against Liverpool by winning their pre-season opener at Stadium MK 4-1
25 August, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
MK DONS 1 (Holding OG 31)
ARSENAL 4 (Elneny 5, Nketiah 10, McGuinness 76, Nelson pen 85)
ARSENAL eased to a comfortable 4-1 victory in their pre-season opener away at MK Dons this evening (Tuesday).
The Gunners were gifted the opener within five minutes when MK Dons goalkeeper Lee Nicholls scuffed his clearance, allowing forgotten man Mo Elneny – back from his loan spell in Turkey – to fire the ball into an empty net from 35 yards.
A smart counter-attack saw Mikel Arteta’s side double their lead inside 10 minutes. Cedric Soares released Bukayo Saka, who cut the ball back for Eddie Nketiah to slot home.
MK Dons pulled a goal back just before the break when Rob Holding directed a cross past Bernd Leno and into his own goal.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect for Gooners in the opening 45 minutes was the chance to finally see William Saliba in an Arsenal shirt.
The defender, who was signed from St Etienne last summer before being loaned back to the Ligue 1 club, showed a good turn of pace and a solid ability to read the game in his brief debut for the Gunners.
Arteta made six changes at the break as he looks to get his entire squad ready for Arsenal’s opening Premier League match away at Fulham on September 12.
On came the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, while Saliba and the somewhat subdued captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off.
Mark McGuinness extended Arsenal’s lead in the 76th minute – the 19-year-old defender rising highest to meet a corner and powerfully head home.
Nelson then added a fourth from the spot after winning and then converting a penalty.
The 4-1 victory was the perfect tonic ahead of Saturday’s Community Shield at Wembley, where league champions Liverpool will no doubt serve-up a much sterner test for the FA Cup winners.
Arsenal: Leno (Macey, 46), Cedric (Nelson, 46), Nelson (Lewis, 86), Saliba (Bola, 46), Holding (McGuinness, 62), Tierney (Olayinka, 62), Elneny (John-Jules, 62), Xhaka (Cottrell, 62), Maitland-Niles (Ballard, 46), Ballard (Oyegoke, 85), Saka (Willock, 46), Nketiah (Azeez, 62), Aubameyang (Smith Rowe, 46).