Theo Walcott scored a brace as Arsenal strolled to a 5-2 win over Benfica in the Emirates Cup, ramping up their pre-season preparations ahead of next week’s Community Shield.
The forward netted twice in the first half – which ended level after strikes from Haris Seferovic and Eduardo Salvio – before Arsene Wenger’s men put on an impressive second-half display against the Portuguese champions.
Oliver Giroud and Alex Iwobi completed the victory after a Lisandro Lopez own goal to give the Gunners a huge boost going into the new season. Walcott, in particular, was impressive, thriving in a more prominent attacking position, calling on support from Reiss Nelson in the wing back position.
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Arsenal face Sevilla in their second Emirates Cup clash tomorrow, before next week’s Community Shield meeting with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
On their second half performance, the Gunners are ready for the new season to start.
TALKING POINT - Does Olivier Giroud still have a role to play at Arsenal?
Many of the fans who turned up at the Emirates Stadium turned up to see the club’s record new signing, Alexandre Lacazette. However, they were made to wait until the 74th minute to see him, with Giroud showing that despite his first team place being taken, he might still have a role to play at Arsenal. The big striker was impressive, not just in the taking of his goal, but in his build up play too.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Theo Walcott
There was a certain intensity to this game that is so often lacking from pre-season friendlies and Walcott was the embodiment of that. The winger seemed to enjoy himself in a prominent position on the edge of the box, with the three at the back system meaning he could leave the wing play to Nelson down the right side. This was Walcott at his best (ignoring the glorious opportunity he passed up to grab his hat trick).
Arsenal's Theo Walcott scores against Benfica
Image credit: Reuters
Arsenal - Ospina 5, Kolasinac 8, Mertesacker 6, Holding 6, Coquelin 6, Xhaka 6, Nelson 7, Walcott 8, Iwobi 7, Maitland-Niles 6, Giroud 8.
Benfica - Cesar 7, Buta 6, Luisao 5, Jardel 5, Eliseu 6, Augusto 6, Pizzi 7, Salvio 6, Cervi 5, Jonas 7, Seferovic 7.
5’ BIG CHANCE FOR GIROUD! The first chance of the match falls to Arsenal, with Giroud heading towards goal after a Walcott cross into the area, but Cesar came off his line to make the save.
11’ GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Benfica: It's the away side who have taken the lead early on at the Emirates Stadium! Jonas headed a long ball back to Seferovic and the Swiss attacker finished via a deflection from Mertesacker.
24’ GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Benfica: There's the equaliser and it's Walcott who slams home the finish on the volley! But it was Kolasinac who deserves the credit. He dug out the cross for his teammate. Great play from the full back.
32’ GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Benfica: That's an exceptional goal! What a passing move! It was Xhaka who played a lovely backheel flick to Coquelin, who squared for Walcott to finish into the empty net from just a matter of yards out.
38’ GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Benfica: It's another goal and this time it's Benfica who grab the equaliser! Another mistake from Arsenal in the back and Salvio finished into Ospina's net via a deflection from Holding. It's 2-2.
50’ GOAL! Arsenal 3-2 Benfica: Arsenal have taken the lead once more! The pass was played into Walcott, who was well onside, with his low cross into the box turned into his own net by Lopez.
56’ SHOULD HAVE BEEN A HAT TRICK! How did he miss?! Giroud set up Walcott for the shot from about six yards out, but he somehow managed to blast well over the bar.
64’ GOAL! Arsenal 4-2 Benfica: Giroud has added his name to the score sheet! The cross into the area was a good one and the French striker hooked back a volley to give a two-goal lead.
70’ GOAL! Arsenal 5-2 Benfica: Another stunning finish, this time from Iwobi! That was an exceptional goal from Arsenal, with Giroud laying the ball off to the winger, who thumped a strike high into the net!
That's the Premier League over for another season then - The Warm-Up
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