Arsenal: Martinez, Bellerin, Chambers, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Campbell, Ramsey, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo
Subs: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere, Giroud, Sanchez, Cazorla, Coquelin, Akpom, Miquel
Yaya Sanogo helped himself to four goals (yep, four goals!) as Arsenal began their Emirates Cup weekend with an eye-catching 5-1 win over a lacklustre Benfica.
The 21-year-old striker had never scored for the Gunners before today but grew in confidence after an early opener to bag a first half hat trick. Aided by Joel Campbell, who scored the home side’s second on his debut, and the tireless Aaron Ramsey, the Frenchman rounded off a fine personal performance with his fourth just after the break. Nico Gaitan did bag a consolation for the Portuguese before new signing Alexis Sanchez took to the field for a 15-minute debut cameo.
Calum Chambers was handed his debut in a central position as part of a makeshift backline that also included Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs. Up front Joel Campbell started on the right side of attack with Yaya Sanogo leading the line. It was a partnership that was to prove very fruitful…
On a sunny afternoon in front of full house at the Emirates it was the visitors who created the first clear cut chance of the game. Nico Gaitan working his way down the right and pulling back for Maxi Perreira who hit the bar from 14-yards out.
Campbell beat the offside trap in the 15th minute to latch onto a beautiful Ramsey dink only for his shot to slice wide. Moments later Yaya Sanogo bound forward, feinted to shoot before setting up Ramsey who couldn’t find space in the box to get a shot off. The pressure kept mounting and a third chance was missed inside a minute when Sanogo clipped wide from a cross on the right.
The French under-21 international finally got his first goal in Arsenal colours on 25 minutes. Aaron Ramsey was the architect neatly escaping his marker before crossing low inside the six-yard box for Sanogo to bundle home a backheeled effort. He enjoyed the moment, dancing a merry jig in front of the Clock End.
Arsenal doubled their lead six minutes before the break and it was debutant Joel Campbell who polished off a fine move with a great left foot finish on the volley. Bellerin and Sanogo exchanged passes on the right before the Spanish right-back picked out the Costa Rican with a deft cross that was calmly slotted home first time from the edge of the box. It was a lovely goal.
Campbell should have had a second within two minutes but he sliced wide from six-yards after a swift, passing move orchestrated by Chamberlain.
Sanogo ensured Campbell didn’t have to dwell too long on his miss as he bagged two quick-fire goals to pile on the misery for the visitors. First the Frenchman tapped home from a Campbell pass after another defence splitting pass by Ramsey, then the lanky hitman latched onto a Gibbs cross to toe-poke home for his hat trick.
Of the 11 shots taken by Arsenal in the opening 45 minutes, 8 were by Campbell and Sanogo. It said it all.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was replaced by Santi Cazorla at the break and the goals kept coming. Campbell and Ramsey again combined on the right and when the Welshman’s low drive was saved Sanogo was on hand to tap in his fourth. Just to prove he is human, the 21-year-old fell over on his way to high-fiving the exuberant crowd.
Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta all came on for the final half an hour replacing Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini. The Gunners were caught napping in the aftermath of the triple subsitution as Nico Gaitan nodded home from a yard out following a throw in.
The crowd didn’t seem overly fussed about the goal, they were more interested in the fact Alexis Sanchez had begun warming up and soon indulged in one of those god-awful Mexican waves.
Sanogo’s afternoon ended on a sour note as he appeared to tweak a hamstring and limped straight down the tunnel. On the plus side he was replaced by a £32 million signing from Barcelona. As you’d expect, Alexis was greeted to a hero’s welcome.
Ignasi Miquel and Chuba Akpom joined the Chilean on the pitch as Joel Campbell and Nacho Monreal also made way. Gaitan nearly backheeled home from close range, ex-Manchester United striker Bebe forced Martinez into a decent stop from a dipping free-kick and Maxi Perreira hit the post cutting in from the left as the visitors rallied in the closing ten minutes.
In the end the Gunners settled for five although Ignasi Miquel and Francis Coquelin did both hit the woodwork. All in all a very encouraging run out by Arsene Wenger’s men who sit pretty at the top of the table with 8 points, 5 ahead of Monaco and Valencia who drew 2-2 earlier in the afternoon.