Santi Cazorla scored one superb goal and assisted two more as Arsenal dismissed Everton 3-1 to pick up the 2015 Barclays Asia Trophy at the Singapore Sports Hub on Saturday night.
Theo Walcott set the Gunners on their way midway through the first half before Cazorla and Mesut Ozil scored in the space of four second-half minutes to put them into a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Ross Barkley pulled one back for Everton late on with a brilliant individual effort, but there was no denying Arsene Wenger’s men in front of 52,107 watching fans.
“I am really pleased with the performance because our focus in pre-season is to get our game back," Wenger said afterwards. "And we played in a convincing way and the way we want to play as well. Together it was good team play.
"In pre-season you start to build your confidence up and the wins help. These kinds of games are intense as well and the quality of opponents provided good intensity. For us, it’s a good preparation (for the new season)."
Wenger kept to his pre-match promise of putting out his big guns as Walcott, Cazorla, Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud all started after not featuring against the Singapore Select XI three days ago.
Meanwhile the biggest cheers from the sell-out crowd went to Petr Cech, who played for the first time since his £11 million switch from Premier League rivals Chelsea.
The first real chance of the game fell to Everton in the eighth minute as Gerard Deulofeu skinned Kieran Gibbs before firing in a dangerous-looking low cross from the byline, but Arouna Kone couldn’t convert.
Surviving that scare, Arsenal gradually settled into their passing rhythm and broke the deadlock on 22 minutes.
Cazorla’s raking 30-yard pass picked out the run of Walcott, who held off Seamus Coleman inside the box before clipping home a neat finish past the onrushing Joel Robles.
Ramsey had a chance to double the Gunners’ advantage 11 minutes later but his speculative 20-yard punt went harmlessly wide.
Everton could have levelled matters four minutes before the break when Steven Naismith got his head onto Luke Garbutt’s freekick, however Cech was on hand to tip the goal-bound effort onto the bar while Kone’s follow-up was disallowed for offside.
Both coaches elected to make changes at halftime, with Wenger bringing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Wilshere, while Everton counterpart Robert Martinez went for Barkley and Kevin Mirallas to replace Naismith and Deulofeu.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s introduction injected life into the Gunners’ attack as left-back Garbutt had little answer to his burst of acceleration down the right side.
After Walcott and Giroud wasted gilt-edged opportunities to extend the lead, it was captain Cazorla (pictured above celebrating his goal) who stepped up to the plate and delivered on the 58th minute.
After a half-cleared corner, the ball fell to the Spanish playmaker who bamboozled James McCarthy with a couple of feints on the edge of the box before firing a grasscutter past the rooted Robles.
Martinez reacted to that setback by bringing on Belgian hitman Romelu Lukaku for the last half-hour, but there was no stopping Arsenal from going into a commanding 3-0 lead on 62 minutes.
Via a Gibbs lofted pass, Ozil played a delightful one-two with Cazorla before coolly curling inside Robles’ near post from eight yards out.
The Toffees did get one back with 15 minutes to go as Barkley lashed home a rasping left-footed drive into the top right corner, after Arsenal had lost the ball in their own half.
But it was too little too late for the Merseyside club as Arsenal added another piece of silverware to their cabinet.
Despite the loss, Martinez felt the tournament had been an excellent part of their preparations for the upcoming campaign.
"I think in pre-season, you don’t get many opportunities of such a competitive game like that," he said. "I mean with the quality of Arsenal, from that point of view it was a great workout.
"Obviously we wanted to win and probably it showed the aspect that in pre-season, lapses of concentration have caused three goals that were very, very poor from our standard. But overall it was a perfect way to stretch the squad and test it.
"We managed to get the two new signings into the starting line up and (to) see Gerard Delofeou and Tom Cleverley helping get the understanding well with the players was very pleasing."
Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments