RVP plays in Gunners’ 4-0 thrashing of Cologne

Unsettled Arsenal striker Robin van Persie came off the bench as the Gunners ended their pre-season preparations with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Cologne yesterday.

The Dutchman took the captain’s armband from Thomas Vermaelen after replacing Lukas Podolski in the 69th minute but got a muted reception from the travelling Arsenal fans.

The Gunners got off to the perfect start in the Rhein Energie Stadion as Santi Cazorla’s corner kick was flicked on at the near post by Per Mertesacker for Vermaelen to power in a header at the back post.

Podolski doubled the lead against his former club from the penalty spot in the 15th minute after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought down in the area.

The German international then got his second three minutes before half-time after a fine pass from Francis Coquelin found Kieran Gibbs on the left. He got to the byline and cut the ball back for Podolski to apply the finish.

Cologne began the second half better but Arsenal’s inventive attacking play continued to cause the home side problems and they went further ahead in the 60th minute as Gervinho cut in from the wing before slotting in at the near post.

Meanwhile out-of-favour striker Andy Carroll capped a comfortable 3-1 victory for Liverpool over Bayer Leverkusen in their final pre-season friendly before they kick off their Premier League campaign.

It took just three minutes for the home side to break the deadlock at Anfield through youngster Raheem Sterling. The 17-year-old latched on to an incisive ball from Jose Enrique down the left before cutting inside to curl a shot into the bottom corner past Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal.

Liverpool’s second of the match came on the 29th minute from a free-kick won by Luis Suarez who was brought down by Daniel Schwaab on the edge of the area.

The cleverly worked set piece found Suarez unmarked in the area, who got the ball stuck under his feet before it was deflected into the path of Lucas who side-footed home into an open goal from six yards out.

A goalkeeping blunder allowed Liverpool to get their third of the match on 65 minutes when Carroll turned nicely on the ball before firing a routine shot from outside the area goalwards that Leno fumbled into the back of the net.

The visitors snatched a consolation through Gonzalo Castro on 75 minutes when he shrugged off Jamie Carragher and unleashed a fierce left-footed shot that sailed past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal.


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