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Xhaka makes first start as Arsenal beat Guadalajara

Arsenal showed their quality in patches during a 3-1 win over Guadalajara in Sunday’s pre-season friendly in Carson, California.

After leaving it late against the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday, Arsenal continued their winning tour of the United States as big-money recruit Granit Xhaka made his first start for the Premier League giants.

But it was new defender Rob Holding who grabbed the early headlines, the unlikely source of Arsenal’s opening goal just past the half-hour mark at Stubhub Centre, after combining with centre-back partner Calum Chambers.

Arsenal stepped it up a gear in the second half, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain staking his claim for a regular starting berth thanks to a sensational individual goal five minutes into the second half, before substitute Chuba Akpom – the match winner from the All-Star game – made it 3-0 in the 56th minute.

A penalty from Angel Zaldivar reduced the deficit for the Mexicans with 16 minutes remaining as Arsenal lost their way in a fiery end to proceedings.

Already three matches into their Liga MX season, Guadalajara were unsurprisingly sharper of the two teams, enjoying some success down the flanks.

Guadalajara came close to breaking the deadlock just past the hour-mark after Daniel Gonzalez’s effort flashed just wide of the post.

That was as good as it got for Guadalajara, however, as Holding gave Arsenal a 34th-minute lead.

Santi Cazorla floated a free-kick into the area, which picked out Chambers at the back post, and the Arsenal centre-back volleyed the ball across the six-yard box for Holding to tap into an empty net.

Despite making four changes at the break, withdrawing the likes of Xhaka and Hector Bellerin, Arsenal continued where they left off in the rampant start to the second half.

After Akpom nearly put Arsenal 2-0 up within seconds of the restart, Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled the lead thanks to a sublime solo goal in the 50th minute, which saw the England international charge down the line, cut inside to leave two opponents in his wake before curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

And it was 3-0 just six minutes later as Akpom stepped in front of his opponent and poked the ball home after latching onto Mathieu Debuchy’s cross.

Debuchy should have netted a fourth for Arsenal with 21 minutes remaining, but he was penalised shortly after for a clumsy challenge on Alejandro Zendejas inside the area as Zaldivar converted his spot-kick.

Mon 1 Aug, 2016
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