Eddie Nketiah was Arsenal’s stand-out performer for the second successive friendly as his two goals inspired them to a comfortable win against Fiorentina.
Young striker Nketiah followed up his last-gasp Bayern Munich strike with goals in each half against Fiorentina. Fellow youngster Joe Willock added a third at the death.
The standout youngster in Arsenal’s touring squad opened the scoring after 16 minutes, finishing off a neat move involving Bukayo Saka and Sead Kolasinac by turning away from defender Aleksa Terzic and firing in.
The 20 year-old was in the right place at the right time again in the 66th minute to tap in Alexandre Lacazette’s cross. Lacazette also set up Willock to fire in Arsenal’s 89th minute third.
Nketiah’s heroics helped Arsenal make it two International Champions Cup wins from two for Unai Emery’s side in America.
They play their final game in the pre-season tournament with another glamour friendly against Real Madrid in Washington on Tuesday.
Eddie Nketiah (centre) was Arsenal’s stand-out performer for the second successive friendly
Should he stay or should he go? That’s the question Unai Emery and his staff will be pondering when it comes to Eddie Nketiah. The prolific young striker has enhanced his claims on this tour with three goals, one against Bayern Munich and two more here against Fiorentina.
But the 20 year-old is currently third choice in Arsenal‘s striker pecking order behind Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He could stay at the Emirates and provide reliable cover for Arsenal’s top two, filling in when they need a break.
Or he could go out on loan, get a full season of regular games under his belt which could potentially accelerate his development. Best for Arsenal would be for him to stay. Best for Nketiah might be for him to head out on loan. Decisions, decisions.
Eddie Nketiah celebrates his first goal in Arsenal’s win over Fiorentina in North Carolina
Unai Emery looks set to continue to be flexible when it comes to his defence, and fielded both a assessing opponents and deciding whether a back three or four is best. Whichever line-up he picks, his shortage of reliable centre backs will be a concern, especially for those occasions when he wants to pick three.
Sokratis is one, Rob Holding will be one when he returns to fitness and Calum Chambers stood out against Fiorentina. Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal had more worrying moments than Emery would want to see though and Laurent Koscielny wants out.
Arsenal agreed a £27m deal for St Etienne defender William Saliba though the 18-year-old will be staying on loan at the French club for this season. What followed at the Bank of America stadium just further underlined the need for a reliable defender to come in who can play now as Emery’s is not blessed with options.
Arsenal full back Nacho Monreal challenges for the ball with Fiorentina winger Ricardo Sottil
ALL EYES ON MADRID
Unai Emery has been balancing the need to share out the minutes among his players but also fine tune his plans for the new season during this tour of America. And it has been pretty clear which of the four games he considers the most important to test the best team he can possibly pick from his 29-man squad.
He selected youthful starting teams for the friendlies against Colorado Rapids and this one against Fiorentina and his strongest against Bayern Munich. It is likely to be the big guns in again against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Emery restricted most of his bigger players to shorter run-outs here in humid Washington and is likely to use their test against Real Madrid as a greater gauge of where his team is ahead of the new season.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery communicates with his players at the Bank of America Stadium
ARSENAL HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
The decision to stage an Arsenal game in Charlotte was a good one by the competitions organisers.
Arsenal clearly have a big following in the city in North Carolina. There were red and white and yellow shirts everywhere you went in Charlotte and inside the Bank of America stadium.
Meanwhile, it was a case of spot the Fiorentina fan before, during the game among the crowd of 34,902 and afterwards.
In fact, there were more supporters wearing shirts of other clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona than the Italian side. It was an indication of Arsenal’s huge popularity stateside.
Fiorentina defender Federico Ceccherini makes a sliding tackle on the Gunners goalscorer
You are certainly left in no doubt about what is happening at the home of the Carolina Panthers, where this friendly was staged. For every corner kick, goal and yellow card the stadium announcer’s voice came booming out of the PA system with an explanation for the fans.
Details of corners came with who was taking it, after a goal was scored the name of who provided the assist was read out and the same for the guilty party when the referee was dishing out cards. It was all a bit different compared to England. ‘Welcome to America,’ one of the local journalists joked.
Megan Rapinoe poses for a photo with former Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (left) and current Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey