Iwobi, Akpom, Ox Impress: Singapore Select XI v Arsenal Review

Singapore Select XI v Arsenal Match Experiences: JK Was There!


Singapore Select XI: Izwan Mahbud (C), Nazrul Nazari, Madhu Mohana, Baihakki Khaizan (Shakir Hamzah 81’), Shaiful Esah (Faris Ramli 53’), Safuwan Baharudin (Fazrul Nawaz 80’), Izzdin Shafiq (Zulfahmi Arifin 65’), Nicolas Velez, Shahdan Sulaiman (Shahril Ishak 72’), Sirina Camara, Khairul Amri (Rodrigo Tosi 58’).

Arsenal Formation: 4-5-1: Emiliano Martinez (Wojciech Szczesny 46’), Mathieu Debuchy (Hector Bellerin 73’), Per Mertesacker (C), Gabriel Paulista, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini (Chris Willock 64’), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gedion Zelalem 64’), Jack Wilshere (Dan Crowley 64’), Alex Iwobi (Jon Toral 73’), Chuba Akpom.

The underlined players are the ones that did not feature in my starting line-up: I was 3 players wrong wow!

The game started strongly, with both sides playing fantastic football. The foreign Singapore Select XI players were impressive, while the local players, still in their Ramadan fasting month – meaning they did not have any lunch – were good in the first half; but, all had their tyres punctured (local lingo) in the second half.

Fast flowing football was the first half. Second half was more about Arsenal keeping the ball, as both teams were tired: Arsenal from the heat, Singapore team from the fasting month.

Players who showed that they are good, include: Nicolas Velez, Izwan (Izwan is his given name, Mahbud is his father’s given name), Baihakki Khaizan, Madhu Mohana, Faris Ramli (he did well when he came on and managed to get the only shorts on goal) and Sirina Camara from Singapore team. Iwobi, Akpom, the all-conquering defence, Ox, and Mathieu played well for Arsenal. Ox showed us how fast he can be, and, together with the trickeries from other players from both teams, this made the game an entertaining one. Pity that Shaiful Esah, the left back from Singapore, went off injured as his pace and left foot is on a par with Monreal.


Zelalem came on late in the second half and had a decent game, with his known pin-point passes, speed and trickery. When Bellerin came on to play at right wing, the game became faster for a short while; but after that, the game became a training and walking game with occasional bursts of speed.

Overall, the atmosphere was quite electric in the first half, and quiet by the last 15 minutes, with more than half the stadium filled (about 30,000 spectators watched the match live in a 50,000-seater stadium). We had occasional Arsenal chants and the Kallang Wave, which is similar to the Mexican wave.

As a Singaporean I am proud of how the Singapore team played attractive football in the first half; and as an Arsenal fan, I am proud to see the lads play exciting football just a week back in training.

That’s all from me. 🙂


21 thoughts on “Iwobi, Akpom, Ox Impress: Singapore Select XI v Arsenal Review

  • Nice one JK. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and by the sounds of it you saw a more than decent performance. Will you be going to the Everton game as well?

  • Any other Singapore Gooners out there who went to the match are more than welcome to tell us their match experiences. Who impressed you most? Was Akpom that good or did the local team make it really easy for him? How was it to finally see the boys in the flesh? 🙂

  • I am catching the Everton game live on TV. Wednesday was a weekday, a working day, so less people watched the match in the stadium.

    Saturday I reckon will have more people.


  • I was at the game and thought Akpom was off the pace for most of the match and was more comfortable when the other young lads came on. Crowley looked good, and Zelalem clearly is very skilful on the ball and has filled out a bit so not so easy to push around. Both teams tried to keep the ball on the ground and play with quick passes and good movement off the ball, Saturday will be a bit more of an indication of where we are in fitness and competitive levels

  • Thanks J K really interesting to get a local perspective. I hadn’t factored in Ramadan. What happened about taking on water?
    I thought the Arsenal young lads looked really good and hungry (in the football sense). Quite a few of them could be knocking on the door soon, although no doubt there will be lots of interest to take them on loan

  • Hi JK.. My vice president.. Hahaha..
    Nice post bro.. Happy Holiday..
    Who is our CF.. Akpom or Iwobi..??

  • Agreed JK, so early in the season it was a very good match to watch. Like you say, the first half was more balanced, with only the Akpom goal separating the two teams. What made it so enjoyable was that both tried to play good football. You can be rightly proud of your Singapore X1. Especially as I believe that they had little time together beforehand.

    Sadly, I don’t think Saturday’s game will be quite so end to end, as both sides will try and conserve energy?

    From an Arsenal perspective it was a good workout. Some had little to do, others like Debuchy, who did well to keep going for as long as he did. He was up and down the wing like he was making amends for missing the Cup final. His persistence paid off when he got into the box and won the first penalty. Slightly harsh on the defender who had moved into that position after an injury to the first choice LB. The merest touch was enough to give the assistant ref little choice but to wave his flag. Wilshere, and indeed Akpom later, both put their penalties away with confidence.

    Across the back line Arsenal looked solid. Mertersacker the masterful only had one moment of anxiety the whole game … when he let the striker go because he was clearly off-side, but was making huge strides to confront the linesman for not raising his flag, probably only saved from embarrassment by the assistant being on the far side of the pitch … and he raised his flag when the striker eventually touched the ball :LOL:

    I liked Gabriel in the Kos role too. Much calmer and deliberate in what he did, and always looked for an alternative pass than the regulation one to the captain. It will be interesting if he takes the Per role of organising when he is paired with Kos? We have yet to see that duo in action, but now he has had more time, it may happen sooner rather than later?

    Monreal, like Debuchy, had a good deal more to do, but still looks like the player who left last season on a high.
    Martinez, with that back 4, had little to do.

    With the DM pairing of Coquelin and Flamini in full command, Wilshere had a dominant role in the centre of midfield. He was involve in pretty much everything going forward, and was a game that showed where he can be most effective. He tried several chip balls over the top for the willing runs of Akpom and Iwobi which might have been rewarded a goal on another occasion. Another putting a marker down for the opening day starting 11?
    Ox too, looked like he was out to impress, with a shoot on sight policy. It may have gone unnoticed, but unlike last season where his shots were always destined for a ‘keeper in the stands to catch, this time he kept his power shots low. One did squirm away wide on the ‘keeper’s left, but that was caused by the defender getting a last minute boot in that stopped him making proper contact. So improvement there, and his trademark power burst were also in good shape.
    The second strings are pressing hard for a place, and it will be up to Cazorla and Ozil to do well to keep that hierarchy?
    Up front the hard working Iwobi taking on the Alexis position did really well, and his ease of working with Akpom made it very pleasing on the eye. He too could have been on the score sheet but the ‘keeper denied him.
    Akpom? He score first with a quick pick up of a ball that spilled out of a tackle on Wilshere. He scored his second from the spot with a confident penalty kick. The third was a combination of poor defending, a pin point cross, and a lot of goal to aim at ……. But that description does him such an injustice. He was ready to pounce when first Zelalem might have crossed, and when he managed to feed Bellerin and above all he timed his leap to perfection and sent it away from the keeper in a way that any striker of any era would have been proud to claim. Especially as he admitted afterwards, he knew heading was a bit of a weakness in his game, so he had been working on it.
    It paid off.
    The subs who came on played their part too. Crowley slipping seamlessly into the Wilshere role. This was a big step up for him, but he showed his ambition to take over one day. Toral also worked hard, but possibly not as sharp as some others, but was quick to seize on the ball that led to the second penalty. Zelalem did well when he moved away from the crowded centre. If he can keep his confidence high and let his game show through, he will be a superb player for the future. Willock was the youngest on show and was not given a lot of time to find his feet. He will do better next time he gets the chance.
    Not forgetting WS1, bless him. It was their for him to mess up the clean sheet that Martinez kept in the first half. But in truth he had little to do. He parried one shot out, and collected the cross cleanly enough. One expects it to be Cech in goal and Ospina on the bench tomorrow?

    Overall, you could say that the seniors won the game at the back, and the youngsters won the game up front.

    That is my take on it at least.

  • IanF – Regards Akpom, I would interpret what you saw slightly differently … from my TV viewing admittedly.
    I think he gelled well with Iwobi from the off, but less so with the other more regular first team players. His positioning on the right looked awkward at times, as a result the ball was often passed around him?
    By the time the bulk of the youngsters came on we were 2-0 up, our defence was solid, and possession was easy to control. So more a case of Iwobi knew where Akpom could use the ball, and indeed vice versa?
    Is that fair?

  • TA – Stop teasing with transfer chatter, it is not your bag .. and you know it 😀

  • Gerry, we are eager for more signings.

    And Ospina is in England. So I rather Cech to be on my starting 11, WS1 on the bench until half time.

    This time it might be tricky, as Bellerin might start, BFG and Kos and Gibbs in defense.

    For midfield I would like Theo to start wide, Ozil, Cazorla and Chambers in DM, as Coq played the full 90 on Wednesday. Toral might be used as a LM.

    Giroud will start up front.


  • JK, Cheers for the atmospherics and your other impressions of the match… Too bad that the stadium could not be filled completely and that it ended with more a whimper than a bang… Seems like more of the real action might be happening in the pool… https://www.facebook.com/thearseblog/posts/10153171755423580

    Additionally, not much in the way of transfer stuff from the most recent AW comments unless a denial is the same as a confirmation… 😀 We’ll probably get a bit more as the manager takes on the press before or after the “final” vs Everton…

    Busy busy at the moment but, at some point, I was gonna write down a few of my concerns about pumping up Le Coq in the extreme fashion that seems so, er, fashionable… (TA’s last post…) Stats are one tool, but I think it’s hard to make the leap from a (very) successful 1/2 year to “we’re all set at the back of our MF”…particularly if Arteta has not overcome his lower leg troubles…(What’s the latest on that?…) Anyhow, it’s probably the sort of thing I could turn into a post, if that’s what’s preferred… Lemme know (TA)… Maybe you’ve got something in the queue around the Everton match…

    Happy Friday!

  • For those who watches F1, Jules Bianchi has succumbed to his injuries.
    #RIPJules. Pity it ended that way. We were praying for him to come back.

  • Good morning Gerry,

    I see you are an early person.

    I have done a similar preview. TA you got mail dude.

    I reckon the lads are more mobile, as they finished their last game on a high. And boy were they fitter than ever before?

    Everton were quite laidback on Wednesday, although I catched the second half so really could not comment on that.

    And Gerry, my lineup is almost the same as yours. Except for Rambo out wide. So more for Santi to ply his trade and amuse the fans?


  • Sorry, JK. When I saw nothing in the pipeline,and knowing HT’s was nothing specifically about today’s game, I leapt in.
    Yes, I was awake at 3.0am local time this morning, about an hour earlier than usual.

    I c&p mine over in the comments, when I get back from the dog walk, which should give others a chance to comment first.

    I hope you are wrong about Ramsey out wide, as he seems to have little chemistry with Bellerin. Wilshere is pretty good though, if only he would stay there a bit more?

    Santi will come from deep whoever else plays. It will be a 4-5-1 in defence, and 4-1-4-1 in transition is my theory, at least with these starters?

  • Hi Gerry,

    Apparently you are one step faster than me. And also a better one 🙂

    Cut and paste Gerry’s preview TA?

    Wilshere likes to cut in, as Theo also is, and what I meant was the fact that you put Rambo on the wide left of the AM. He looks better on the left than on the right, and you are right about his not so camaraderie with Bellerin.

    The formation will stick that way as you said Gerry, I do not think it will change.


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