Okonkwo will bounce back and other things we learned from Arsenal loss

Arsenal’s rookie keeper Arthur Okonkwo will bounce back after horror error allowed Hibs to score, as first-team stars with unclear futures slip to surprise Easter Road defeat… things we learned from the Gunners’ opening pre-season clash

  • Arsenal’s opening pre-season clash saw them lose 2-1 at Scottish side Hibernian
  • Game was highlighted by shocking goalkeeping error from Arthur Okonkwo
  • The 19-year-old stopper was making his first senior appearance for the club
  • Hibs gave support to Bukayo Saka before game in the wake of his penalty miss

Arsenal kicked off their pre-season with a 2-1 defeat by Hibernian.

Mikel Arteta’s side conceded once in each half against the Scottish Premiership side at Easter Road.

Firstly Martin Boyle tapped into an empty next after a mistake from goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo and then, after the break, sub Daniel Mackay nodded in Hibs’s second with his first touch after coming off the bench.

Emile Smith Rowe (left) netted a late consolation goal for Arsenal in their 2-1 defeat by Hibs

The game saw Arsenal’s rookie keeper Arthur Okonkwo (right) make a horrendous error to allow Hibernian to take the lead through Martin Boyle (left)

Half-time subs Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe helped give Arsenal a greater threat after the break.

Thomas Partey hit the post with a free-kick and Arsenal were initially denied a goal back when Pepe saw his penalty saved by Kevin Dabrowski.

But Smith Rowe did grab an Arsenal consolation with eight minutes left when he turned in Hector Bellerin’s cross.

Shape of the squad

As is often the case for early pre-season games, it is mix and match sides that are fielded and wholesale changes made throughout.

In Arsenal’s case a number of players whose futures remain uncertain were still involved at Easter Road highlighting the work that could still need to be done before the season starts.

Sead Kolasinac, Reiss Nelson, Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Willian and Edde Nketiah all started while Hector Bellerin came off the bench. Joe Willock who enjoyed a brilliant loan spell at Newcastle who want him back, was not involved.

Willian was one of many Arsenal stars with uncertain futures given the chance to impress

Arthur Okonkwo

Young keeper Arthur Okonkwo got his first taste of senior action against Hibs and had a mixed evening. He misjudged a Cedric Soares back-pass – admittedly not the easiest one to deal with – to present Martin Boyle with a tap-in for Hibs’s first goal but there’s no need to go overboard.

The 19 year-old was bound to have some nerves given the significance of the occasion for him. Okonkwo is highly thought of at Arsenal, underlined by the three-year contract they handed him last week and his promotion to third choice.

One other nervy moment aside from the goal, there was some evidence of why. The mistake will be the main takeaway from Easter Road but if ever there was an occasion to get it out of his system it was here and it’s highly unlikely Okonkwo will ever do the same thing again.

Despite his mixed evening, Okonkwo is highly rated within the Gunners’ ranks

Nuno Tavares

Arsenal have made one summer signing so far in £7m left-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica.

He has been in training and part of the squad Mikel Arteta took to Scotland after arriving last week but was deemed not quite ready to make his first appearance in Arsenal colours just yet.

New signing Nuno Tavares was not part of the Arsenal team to face Hibs at Easter Road

Hibernian support for Saka

There was a nice touch from hosts Hibernian for Arsenal star Bukayo Saka after he was the unfortunate player to miss the decisive penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat and then subjected to vile racist abuse.

Saka may now be taking a well-earned break but the Scottish side showed their support by presenting Arsenal with a Hibernian shirt bearing Saka’s name and number seven ahead of kick off.

Hibernian printed a replica top with Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka’s name on the back in support of the winger following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final for England on Sunday

What’s next?

Arsenal remain in Scotland for their next pre-season game when they face Scottish champions Rangers at 2pm on Saturday.

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