by Lewis Ambrose
The second game of pre-season saw Arsenal comfortably defeat 3-1 Everton in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore.
The Gunners took the lead in the first half with a Theo Walcott goal, before second half efforts from Mesut Özil sealed the win despite a late consolation from Everton’s Ross Barkley.
Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey lined up in central midfield behind Mesut Özil with Jack Wilshere given a free role starting from wide as Arsène Wenger continues to look for a way to play all of his star midfielders.
It was, though, the inclusion of Petr Čech that attracted the most attention as he started his first Arsenal game and the goalkeeper was cheered by the fans every time he touched the ball.
The first half saw Cazorla find a well-timed Theo Walcott run, and the Englishman struck to put Arsenal 1-0 up. Walcott’s finish was tidy, tucked below Joel Robels, Cazorla’s sumptuously weighted 40 yard pass was even better.
Before the first 45 minutes were up Čech showed just why Arsenal signed him. Steven Naismith flicked a Luke Garbutt free-kick towards the far post, only for the new Arsenal goalkeeper to instinctively tip the ball onto the bar. The ball eventually nestled into the back of the net, but offside was given. The flag went up but take nothing away from Čech, his save was superb.
The second half began with almost the same side, with just Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming on for Jack Wilshere. Both players started Wednesday’s game and it was hardly a shock to see the swap.
After the break Arsenal managed to create more with Everton chasing an equaliser. Chances for Walcott after a scuffed Olivier Giroud effort and Giroud himself after an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross went begging.
Gunners fans didn’t have to wait long for the lead to be doubled, with the second goal coming before the hour mark. Santi Cazorla faked a shot twice – once with each foot – before picking his spot and placing the ball low in the near post.
Just four minutes later there was another goal to celebrate. A flowing move left Mesut Özil in acres of space, the German obliged, the game was more or less over.
A good first outing for Petr Čech didn’t result in a clean sheet. As the game opened up there were more chances for Arsenal, but the net only bulged once more and it was at the wrong end. A cheap turnover from Oxlade-Chamberlain was punished with Barkley firing past Čech.
Despite Barkley’s consolation the win was very comfortable indeed, and will serve as a boost ahead of the season. Petr Čech didn’t have to wait very long for his first Arsenal success, and the performance was certainly an encouraging one.
Roll on the Emirates Cup next weekend as the new season draws closer.