Arsenal overpower MK Dons in Stadium MK pre-season outing

The game streamed live on YouTube for UK viewers

Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 7:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 7:56 pm
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Regan Poole

A strong Arsenal side put MK Dons to the sword on Tuesday night as Russell Martin's side were beaten 4-1 at Stadium MK.

In a game that saw up to 60,000 viewers on YouTube, Dons were 2-0 inside 10 minutes through goals from Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah. Dons pulled one back before half time when Rob Holding put Regan Poole's cross into his own net and needed to capitalise early in the second period when Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta began to make changes, but when Dons put on the youngsters, Mark McGuinness headed home a third for the Gunners before Reiss Nelson netted a fourth from the spot five minutes from time.

With less than two weeks before the season gets underway for both sides, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta named a fierce squad which featured four players – Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Granit Xhaka – who started in the FA Cup final in early August.

Sam Nombe evades Granit Xhaka

Having started against Coventry on Saturday, Dons boss Russell Martin returned to the comfort of the dugouts as he named as strong a side as is available to him, with Callum Brittain and Joe Mason both included amongst the substitutes, while injured George Williams and Rhys Healey and rested Ben Gladwin watched from the stands.

Within 10 minutes though, Arsenal had flexed their Premier League muscle to go 2-0 up. The first came after five minutes when a loose Lee Nicholls pass out went straight to Mohamed Elneny to fire into an empty net from 30 yard, before the second saw Eddie Nketiah tap home from six yards after a rapid break up the right flank from Cedric.

From there though, Dons looked a much more settled side and began to relax into the game. Carlton Morris tested keeper Bernd Leno with a close range header, while Sam Nombe also caused havoc in the box but was unable to convert.

Louis Thompson, who looked strong against Coventry on Saturday, was feeling the brunt of some heavy Arsenal challenges during the course of the first half, but took one too many on the half hour as he was forced out, replaced by Callum Brittain.

And he was immediately involved as Dons pulled one back. With almost everyone getting a touch, Regan Poole's eventual cross was inadvertently put past his own keeper by Rob Holding.

Arsenal made a string of substitutions at the interval as Arteta rested his stars, but Dons were still the side doing the majority of the leg-work in the opening exchanges as they sought out an equaliser.

But when both sides made a whole host of substitutions during the second period, the game lost it's momentum. It won't have stopped Martin from being frustrated at the manner of the third goal though as Arsenal made sure of the result with 15 minutes to go as Mark McGuinness' bullet header beat Nicholls.

And with five minutes to go, Mich'el Parker, a trialist, poorly times his challenge on Reiss Nelson to give away a penalty, which he then dispatched sending Nicholls the wrong way.

MK Dons: Nicholls, Poole, Lewington (Trialist 68), Houghton (Boateng 68), O'Hora (Sorinola 53), Cargill (Davies 68), Kasumu, Thompson (Brittain 30) (Mason 68), Morris (Freeman 68), Nombe (Bird 68), Harvie (Jallow 68)

Subs not used: Walker, Black, Bailey