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Chamakh shines as Arsenal draw with AC Milan

Arsenal new-boy Marouane Chamakh showed why Arsene Wenger spent nearly a year trying to sign him with a clinical finish in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against AC Milan in the Emirates Cup.

Gunners boss Wenger landed Chamakh on a free transfer from Bordeaux in May after a lengthy courtship and the early signs suggest the Morocco striker will prove to have been worth the wait.

Chamakh marked his first appearance at the Emirates Stadium with a man of the match display capped by a predatory first half strike.

The Gunners were denied a winning start to their four-team pre-season tournament however as Alexandre Pato headed a late equaliser for Milan.

Wenger has spent most of the close-season attempting to stop Barcelona taking Cesc Fabregas back to the Nou Camp.

But, with Fabregas on holiday until next week, the focus switched to Chamakh and fellow new signing Laurent Koscielny.

Chamakh was the star turn as he led the Arsenal attack in the targetman role normally occupied by Robin van Persie, who is still resting after his efforts with Holland at the World Cup.

His goal was richly deserved and Wenger now has to decide whether to play him alongside van Persie or alternate the pair.

Koscielny, a French centre-back who cost 10 million pounds from Lorient, is ear-marked to replace William Gallas at the heart of Arsenal’s defence and was steady enough alongside Thomas Vermaelen.

Arsenal fans will also have been intrigued that Wenger selected Lukasz Fabianski in goal ahead of Manuel Alumnia, suggesting the Spaniard’s days as the Gunners’ first-choice keeper may be over.

Vermaelen, wearing the captain’s armband in Fabregas’s absence, almost put Arsenal in front early on with a glancing header that Christian Abbiati clawed to safety.

Koscielny was close to scoring an unfortunate own goal when his attempted block of a shot from former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini sent the ball cannoning onto the crossbar.

But Arsenal always looked lively going forward and Chamakh put the Gunners ahead in the 36th minute.

Andrey Arshavin surged forward from midfield and held off Gennaro Gattuso before slipping a pass towards Chamakh, who timed his run perfectly to guide a low shot past Abbiati.

It took a fine stop from Abbiati to stop Tomas Rosicky increasing Arsenal’s lead just before half-time as the veteran keeper used his legs to keep out the Arsenal midfielder’s snap-shot.

Chamakh threatened again in the second half with a burst down the left and a powerful shot that Abbiati blocked at the near-post.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan, rebuilding after a disappointing effort in Serie A last season, have only just started their pre-season preparations and looked sluggish at times.

But the Italians, cheered on by their former player David Beckham, improved as the game went on and equalised in the 77th minute when Pato’s glancing header found the far corner of Fabianski’s goal.

Sat 31 July, 2010
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