Even in the twilight of his career, Didier Drogba proved that he remains a formidable presence and retains a fierce appetite, especially when Arsenal are the potential victims. The 35-year-old, who in his Chelsea days, more than anyone else, showed up Arsenal’s physical weaknesses, rolled back the years in the final game of the Emirates Cup to lead his Galatasaray side to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. The result means the Turkish champions lifted the Emirates Cup trophy, while Arsenal languished in third.
In a first half played at a virtual walking pace, Arsenal had been the slightly better side but went into the break in front only due to a cross that sneaked inside the post from Theo Walcott. There was more to entertain in the second period as the introduction of Drogba and Wesley Sneijder at the interval proved to be the catalyst for a turnaround as the Ivorian first won and then converted a penalty in the 78th minute before sticking a goal of real quality nine minutes later.
The result ensured a disappointing end to their own annual tournament for Arsenal as they again, after a 2-2 draw with Napoli on Saturday, failed to provide any evidence than manager Arsene Wenger does not need to get the club’s check book out in a big way before the close of the transfer window.
The only signing that Arsenal have made this summer, France Under-20 striker Yaya Sanogo, was given a first outing in front of the Emirates fans on Sunday. It is certainly not helpful that Arsenal’s lack of signings means that there is more scrutiny on a player that should be given the opportunity to initially develop out of the blinding spotlight. There was the odd good touch, but, understandably, based on this scant evidence, Sanogo certainly didn’t show that he was ready to make an immediate impact. The former Auxerre man had an opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet in the opening minute, but after Felipe Melo’s error he could only fire a tame shot at goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Walcott perhaps had an even better chance in the 19th minute. A fine pass from halfway got the pacey winger just in behind his minder, but Walcott's flicked shot went wide of the post as Muslera rushed out to apply pressure. But the England man, looking to build off his best season, soon put the Gunners in front, albeit in fortunate circumstances. A short corner was returned to Walcott at a good angle to whip the ball dangerously toward the far post, but the invitation for a touch was never accepted and Muslera couldn’t react quickly enough as the ball went beyond his dive and into the corner.
Having threatened very little in the opening period, Galatasaray brought on their two big-name January signings, Sneijder and Drogba to try and inject some impetus at the break. Sneijder almost proved a difference maker when he powered a shot at goal out of nowhere and forced Szczesny into a smart save. From Drogba's effort early on, there was odd reminder of the target man prowess that he used to show in the Premier League and never more so in frequently dominating Arsenal defenses.
He also reproduced another hallmark of his game, which has won less acclaim over the years, when he went down in the box after the slightest of nudges in the back from Arsenal substitute Ignasi Miquel. There was never any doubt that Drogba would take the spot kick and he coolly dispatched it by sending Szczesny the wrong way. In pantomime villain fashion, he lapped up the moment by turning his back to the crowd and pointing to the name on his jersey to ensure everyone knew that Drogba was still very much in business.
And there was still far more to come from Drogba, as he showed why his former mentor Jose Mourinho has indicated that he would still love to see the striker back at Stamford Bridge. Sneijder, another of Mourinho’s former stars, was the architect with a delightful pass right onto the boot of Drogba in the box, who took an equally sublime first-touch to take him inside the befuddled Per Mertesacker before he blasted the ball into the net with an emphatic second.