Ajax 0 Arsenal 0: A decent match and a decent display

Last updated : 01 August 2004 By Brian Dawes

Kolo Toure in action
This match started faster and both sides passed around well from the kick off. Arsenal played in their new all blue kit, which if you like blue is fine but personally I think it sucks.

A great full length save by Lehmann after a rare loose ball from Cole emphatically marked his intentions to retain his number one slot for the coming season. Hoyte showed he could pass while Freddie combined well with Jose early doors. A header on from Freddie saw Jose skim the top of the bar with a chance where he possibly had more time to do better. Reyes then bent a low shot from our right just past the far post. Another fine move, which involved Flamini, saw Freddie hit a low hard cross just beyond the outstretched toe of Reyes. Freddie was looking good.

Jens caught another high cross before Dennis was caught offside. A man over on the far post for Ajax but the boys in red and white got in each other's way and messed up. Dennis once again was caught offside but was decidedly unimpressed; we got no TV replays to confirm his opinion. A tasty dive by Van der Vaart didn't impress Gilberto. Another tumble, this one by Ibrahimovic earned a free kick near the edge of our area but Ashley was on hand to clear off the line. A bit of an Ajax spell ended with a shot that went wide. A great line ball from Hoyte put Freddie away for another decent cross. An obvious late challenge on Pires was ignored and no free kick given, the officials obviously feeling very at home and acting it.

Kolo was looking for forward runs, something I think we might see a lot of in the coming months. De Jong whose tackle was over the top and deserved the yellow card he received took out Reyes on a run down the middle. Dennis got a shot in. Obodai crossed to Ibrahimovic but he shot straight at Jens, it was the best Ajax chance of the half. One more attack for Ajax before half time.

No changes after the break and Ajax were the first to break forward. Reyes who'd been stretchered off after the bad tackle on him before the break won a free kick near the edge of the box on the right, Dennis took it but Kolo headed over. Pires made a good interception and run that ended with Jose shooting wide. A great solo run by Dennis ended with a shot off target. Ajax start their substitutions. There was a fine block on the edge of our box by Cygan following a corner. Gilberto took out a runner but the free kick was well off target from Ibrahimovic. Arsenal were looking the part now and a Kolo solo was part of a move that saw Jose cross for Pires to head goalwards, but man of the match Stekenlenberg (according to the tournament sponsors) made a fantastic save. Flamini and Ljungberg were replaced by Ne (a Beveren trialist) and Pennant in the blue boots that looked far better with our away kit than they did with our red socks on Friday.

Gilberto was solid while Kolo was brilliant and Pascal did all that was asked of him. Cole is now getting on for world class and Pires looked sharp. This was a real match, our first such of the season and we looked pretty good. Pires sold a dummy then shot for goal and the result was another good save. A strange back pass saw their keeper save on the line with Dennis pleading for the rather obvious free kick that wasn't given by Mr Homer of Amsterdam. Two more slick Arsenal attacks followed with no end product. Another Lehmann save, low, and another Cole clearance on the line. Dennis to Reyes who was spotted on a forward run which he continued, his low shot was well saved again. More Ajax substitutions.

A deep corner saw Dennis shoot first time from beyond the area but Cygan couldn't convert. Eboue, Persie and Aliadiere replaced Pires, Reyes and Hoyte. Van Persie being booed onto the field and booed again with his every touch, seemingly he's as popular with Ajax fans as Teddy is with Gooners. Cole did well once again down the left, and how many times will that be reported in the coming season? The keeper once again saved from Jeremie. Van Persie to Dennis to Aliadiere and another save. Kolo and Jens were both hurt, both needed treatment but both recovered. Oboue won us two late corners but the keeper was up to it when the balls came in. Another goal less draw perhaps but this was a real match and we came through it with a lot of credit. No matter who is required to take a place in our line up against Everton you can be sure that Arsene will have them in good shape.