Arsenal 5 Benfica 1 - Emirates Cup
I know it's only pre season and all that but I enjoyed that game of football at the Emirates. As expected most of the first team World Cuppers were sat on the bench waiting for tomorrow's game against Monaco. So most of the young players and fringe players started the game as well as the first team players who were not involved at this summers World Cup.
I didn't expect Yaya Sanogo to be involved as I thought he was still ruled out with the injury that saw him not fly to face New York Red Bulls but he was back in the starting line up.
Joel Campbell kicked off his Arsenal career on the right of a front three. One of the few left footed players to start from the right in Arsene's reign at the club. I was very interested to see how he would perform in an Arsenal shirt and I thought he was our most influential player in the early stages.
Like I've said in the past I find Campbell very interesting, very different to most stereotypical wide strikers. He has an excellent blend of creativity, almost like a playmaker with superb weight of pass and vision yet he is comfortable picking the ball up and running straight at defenders or latching onto through passes.
His goal and Arsenal's second was very Lukas Podolski like. Arriving on the edge of the left hand side of the penalty spot to slot home a wonderful Hector Bellerin pick out. I'll come to the Spaniard in a minute or two. Campbell's pre assist in the second half was one of the highlights of the game for me. Taking a long pass on his chest and reversing a pass in between a defender to Ramsey. I bet Arsene would have loved that.
An Aaron Ramsey swift turn in Benfica's half and cross allowed Yaya Sanogo to open his Arsenal account with a close range back heal. We hoped that his first goal would open the floodgates for him but I don't think many suspected it would all be in one game.
Ever since Yaya arrived on the pitch at Arsenal he has found himself in some very good scoring positions every time he plays. Opposition goalkeepers have had their say and wayward finishing has also been on the agenda but he gets into the positions to miss. A little like Aaron Ramsey before he took a step up. So in some ways it is not much of a surprise to see Sanogo convert his chances once the first went in. Confidence plays a big part in finishing chances and you could see the weight lift around him.
Whether or not it is a pre season game or a meaningless friendly, Sanogo finishing off chances in a match will benefit him when future chances present themselves. All of his four goals were penalty box strikers goals. I enjoyed his third goal, taking Gibbs cross in his stride and poking the ball past the keeper. But as pleasing as it was he will need to take this into the Premier League.
As exciting as Campbell, Ramsey and Sanogo's goals were, I was most impressed with the forward contribution of Hector Bellerin. I've enjoyed watching him in the reserves for a while but really wanted to see him around more senior players. I got my wish yesterday. What instantly stood out was his composure on the ball and lack of fearlessness. His link up with Campbell was impressive and his pick out for Campbell's goal was worth applauding by itself. For years we have seen our right back get to a certain position on the right and fire in crosses into the box without any particular target in mind. One run in the first half was reminiscent of a seasoned winger in his prime. From what I've seen of him at reserve level I love his little darts in behind the opposition left back which has lead to plenty of assists and goals.
I want to see how he copes with being put under a lot more pressure defensively, if he can defend well at the highest level then I can't see anything other than a big future for the Spaniard. Another youngster looked equally as composed at the back and that was new boy Calum Chambers. We didn't see a great deal of defensive actions from him but what he did do was good. I liked his distribution from the back, playing passes in between the lines to our midfield players. As the other Chambo said post match, it looked as if Calum Chambers had been an Arsenal player for years. I'd be interested to see how he does alongside Laurent Koscielny. They seem a natural fit.
Alexis Sanchez got a short cameo at the end but the game had pretty much died by then so we spent a lot of the time defending. From the little we did see you can see he has a lot of quality and he'll give the team a huge boost. He is not yet fit and the 45 minutes Arsene has planned for him will push him closer to fitness.
We did concede a rather poor goal from a throw on but what do you expect when you have only one first choice defender in their correct position. Monreal is no centre back.
Friendly or no friendly beating Benfica 5-1 and witnessing some great attacking football was great to see and hopefully we can see some more of that today when a more first choice looking side takes the field this afternoon.