After 90 minutes of stalemate, both Everton and Stoke City looked as cool as ice in the hot humid conditions in Singapore when stepping up for the penalty shoot-out, everyone that is...until new on-loan Potter Marco Van Ginkel took his penalty; seeing it saved by Tim Howard away to his right. Van Ginkel's miss and the perfect penalties subsequently meant it was left to skipper Phil Jagielka to send the Blues into Saturday's final and as we can all remember; Jagielka makes no mistake in semi-final penalty shoot-outs and this one going the same way as his winning spot-kick against Manchester United though slightly more lofted.
Straight after Everton's penalties victory, Arsenal thumped the Singapore Select XI with a Chuba Akpom hat-trick and Jack Wilshere penalty to set up tomorrow's final. Everton and the Gunners have had a tight few games in past meetings, with four of the last six league meetings being draws. Now that Roberto Martinez's side have regained some of their fitness back in the opening two pre-season fixtures, the team, who will be giving the 2015/16 away kit a debut, can now look to get a little match sharpness back and Arsenal provide a tough test to help make that happen.
How to watch
Everton's pre-season schedule, as with past seasons, is being covered by EvertonTV and streaming of this match can be purchased for £1.99 or a ‘pre-season pass’ can be bought for £12.99, for the remaining games of the pre-season campaign. This game will also be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK.
Bryan Oviedo, Leighton Baines, Darron Gibson, Aiden McGeady and Muhamed Besic didn't travel to Singapore through their respective injuries and again will be unavailable. Right-back Seamus Coleman, who was rested in the win over Mark Hughes' side with a small knock, is in line to return in tomorrow's final and many are predicting he will start. James McCarthy took a knock in that victory and will be assessed before the Arsenal game but it is expected that his knock will be treated the same way as Coleman's and he will be rested.
I would expect players like Joel Robles, Luke Garbutt, John Stones and Tom Cleverley, who have yet to start so far this pre-season to do just that third game into the schedule.
Last season was a pretty positive one for Arsene Wenger's side, coming off a FA Cup triumph the season before, they managed to retain the title and their outstanding form in the second half of the season meant there was no fourth place anxiety that they have experienced in recent years and they managed to finish third and worry Manchester City for their second place finish.
There is a tremendous amount of excitement for Gooners ahead of new season after the bargain signing of Petr Cech and a sense that with a few more signings in the spine of the team and they could mount a serious title challenge.
Although against lesser opposition, Arsenal looked in good shape against the Singapore Select XI on Wednesday, in particular Chuba Akpom; a relatively unknown quantity for some.
Arsenal will be without Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky for tomorrow's encounter, as both did not travel to Singapore. Whereas Cech is expected to make his long awaited Arsenal debut and the likes of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey may start after Wenger said following their semi-final win, that he would rotate the side.
What to Watch For
The Barclays Asia Trophy final is at a slightly later time to Everton's semi-final and perhaps it may be slightly cooler but there will still be the need for drinks breaks. With the potential for it to be cooler though, there is the potential for the game to be played at a faster pace. Furthermore, this will be the Blues' third friendly and therefore the match fitness they are developing could increase the pace of the game as well.
Both often play the same or a similar formation and even play a similar style of football so it is not a surprise really that recent encounters have been tight, and that can be expected tomorrow.
The two teams also play with attacking full-backs both sides of the pitch whoever they use at right and left back and therefore goals could come from out wide if the wingers don't track the run of their marker when the tables are turned or if full-backs are caught out at the wrong end of the pitch when possession is lost.
The Final Word
Although this is a friendly match and a tournament consisting of only two games for each team, there is still a trophy on offer and no matter the little significance of it, the trophy is there for the taking and winning it could only effect the squad in a positive fashion - as well as beating Arsenal, which is always nice.