Fresh from winning the Barclays Asia Trophy, Arsenal closed in on further pre-season silverware as they thrashed Lyon 6-0 in their opening Emirates Cup fixture this afternoon.
The headline event from a youth perspective was the performance of Alex Iwobi, with the Hale End product joining Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla on the scoresheet, whilst also demonstrating some neat link-up play and having another effort ruled out for offside.
Chuba Akpom, on as a substitute, came perilously close to finding the net himself, with the youngster’s effort hitting the outside of the post. There were further positives, too, with French prospect Jeff Reine-Adelaide being introduced, along with Isaac Hayden, who made a welcome return to first-team action after his injury problems.
Subs: Arteta, Cazorla, Akpom, Walcott, Hayden, Reine-Adelaide. Not used: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal.
It was an excellent performance from Arsenal, and one that called to mind their triumph over Benfica this time last year, but both sides were a little slow to get going in the opening exchanges.
Iwobi, stationed on the left flank, looked bright early on, but the first opportunity of note fell to Lyon, with Clinton Njie forcing a save from Emiliano Martinez.
It wasn’t long, though, until Arsenal started to get into their groove, with Ramsey and Giroud both having chances before Lyon suffered a major disappointment when Clement Grenier had to be substituted because of injury.
Grenier’s withdrawal certainly had an adverse effect on the French side, with Arsenal proceeding to dominate thereafter. The Gunners nearly took the lead when Ramsey’s long pass found Ozil, but the German was unable to find the net.
Shortly afterwards, however, Ozil created the first goal of the game as his free-kick was headed in by Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring.
From there Lyon were simply unable to withstand the waves of Arsenal pressure. The second goal was an excellent free-flowing team move, with Ramsey and Giroud combining to find Oxlade-Chamberlain, who finished adroitly.
Arsenal were determined to inflict as much damage upon Lyon as possible and the third goal followed very quickly. Ramsey was again involved in the build-up, with Iwobi this time providing the finishing touch and doing his first-team prospects no harm at all.
Iwobi then had the ball in the net again and it seemed almost too good to be true. Indeed it was, with the youngster’s effort being correctly ruled out for offside, but his earlier goal had clearly provided the 19-year-old with a huge confidence boost.
Arsenal continued to dominate, with Ozil playing a clever pass through to Ramsey, who made it 4-0.
At the other end Martinez then had to make a rare save to deny the much talked about Alexandre Lacazette. You could say that there was certainly a lack of zest about Lyon’s performance today.
Somewhat inevitably, the intensity levels dropped a little after the interval, but Oxlade-Chamberlain was still lively and the England international had a shot deflected wide.
Giroud and Debuchy then came close to scoring, with the fifth goal eventually being scored by Ozil, who applied the finishing touch to another intricate move involving Ramsey and Giroud.
Arsenal then made a triple substitution, with Akpom, Mikel Arteta and Cazorla all being introduced. Akpom, deployed on the left flank, was eager to make an impression, but failed to get his shot away properly following a good run.
As the game wore on Arsene Wenger made further changes, with Reine-Adelaide, Theo Walcott and eventually Hayden all being brought on. Reine-Adelaide made the biggest impression of the trio with some neat skill, but it was one of the more experienced players, Cazorla, who concluded the scoring with a clever free-kick that was sent underneath the jumping wall.
There was still time for Akpom to strike the outside of the post at the conclusion of a highly eventful game, but this was a hugely positive outing for Arsenal as they won their third pre-season fixture in succession.
They will aim to continue this momentum against Wolfsburg tomorrow, with Wenger set to make numerous changes to his side.
To reflect on today’s proceedings, Iwobi will be delighted with his first appearance at Emirates Stadium for the first-team, whilst Reine-Adelaide, on this evidence, could be set for involvement in the Capital One Cup this season.