Arsenal debut by Kai Havertz fails to impress as Jorginho red-faced with Nurnberg own-goal


Arsenal staggered to a 1-1 draw with German outfit Nurnberg in their first pre-season friendly, with debutant Kai Havertz unable to stamp his mark on proceedings. The German, signed from Chelsea for £65million this transfer window, made his long-awaited bow in a Gunners shirt. 

Bukayo Saka scored Arsenal’s only goal, cutting inside from the right and, in trademark style, flashing a left-footed drive into the far corner. Having scored after just six minutes, it seemed like last season’s Premier League title challengers might go on to win handsomely. 

But that was not the case. Mikel Arteta’s side ambled to a draw with several young players offered the opportunity to stake a claim for more involvement next season. 

Ethan Nwaneri, the Premier League’s youngest-ever player, was particularly impressive, showing a few neat touches and close control. However, this seemed like little more than an extravagant training exercise for the more senior members of Arteta’s squad. 

Havertz was introduced at half-time, playing in the central midfield role that he is expected to occupy under Arteta. Likely gone are the days of the former Bayer Leverkusen star being shoehorned into an extremely unnatural centre-forward position, just like he was at Chelsea. 

The 24-year-old drifted around the pitch, linking up with his fellow midfielders and striker Gabriel Jesus. He was unable to create any major moments - but that will not worry Arteta at this early stage. 

Folarin Balogun struck the post for Arsenal moments before the Gunners conceded in calamitous circumstances. Karl Hein’s pass to Jorginho was simply not on, and the former Chelsea star lofted the ball back towards goal. 

Unfortunately for the midfielder, it nestled into the bottom corner of the goal, filed under the category of: get it out the way in pre-season. Nurnberg’s players even had the gall to celebrate. 

Most worryingly for Arteta will be an injury suffered by captain Martin Odegaard prior to the game. The club captain had been named in the starting line-up but was pulled out after picking up a “knock” during the warm-up, with Fabio Vieira taking his place. 

Arteta and Arsenal’s fans will hope that the issue is not serious, instead taking the Norwegian out of the team as a precaution. The Gunners boss will need last year’s best player ready for the season opener against Nottingham Forest on August 12.

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