Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil were on target as Arsenal claimed the Barclays Asia Trophy 2015 trophy with a 3-1 victory over Everton in Singapore.
Although Everton started brightly and came close three times themselves through Arouna Kone, this was a masterful victory by a dominant Arsenal side, who might have doubled their tally before Ross Barkley produced the finish of the night with fine consolation goal.
Both managers Roberto Martinez, of Everton, and Arsene Wenger, of Arsenal, rang the changes from the sides who had triumphed against Stoke City and a Singapore Select XI respectively on Wednesday, with the Merseysiders keeping only three players from the team who had edged out the Potters on penalties, while only Jack Wilshere survived from the
Arsenal line-up which started in the 4-0 victory over the hosts.
Everton started the better of the two sides with summer signing Gerard Deulofeu looking particularly threatening with his pace. In the eighth minute he left Cazorla for dead with a burst of acceleration down the right flank. The Spaniard raced infield, took the ball to the byline and cut it back at the near post for Kone, who was repelled by the recovering Cazorla.
Although they had barely threatened until this point, Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half when Cazorla executed a long, defence-splitting pass from just inside the halfway line into the path of Walcott, who struck a first-time half-volley past advancing goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Buoyed by the goal, and vociferous support from the Arsenal faithful among the 52,107 present at the Singapore National Stadium, Wenger’s charges began to find their stride, putting Everton on the back foot with a sustained period of possession and intricate passing in the final third.
That said, Everton thought they had equalised on 40 minutes when Kone rifled a shot on the rebound in off Gareth Barry after Petr Cech, making his first appearance for Arsenal since his summer move from Chelsea, had reacted superbly to tip Steven Naismith’s header on to the crossbar. Unfortunately for the Toffees, Naismith and Barry had moved fractionally offside as Luke Garbutt sent over his perfectly flighted free-kick into the penalty area.
At the other end Aaron Ramsey attempted to channel Marco van Basten when trying an ambitious volley from the tightest of angles, which flew wide, while Giroud would have been clear and unattended had he only managed to control a sublime disguised pass by Ozil on the stroke of half-time.
Arsenal had dominated the first half and the second continued in a similar vein with Ozil and Cazorla pulling the strings in midfield. Cazorla forced a save from Robles on 52 minutes and Walcott prodded wide moments later when a mix-up in the Everton defence and a wayward shot by Giroud found the England striker with only Robles to beat.
Next it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to threaten as the substitute hared down the right wing only for his cross to elude Giroud’s head by inches, while Robles forced a shot from Hector Bellerin over the bar.
Although Cech had to be alert to parry Garbutt’s powerful 20-yard drive, and Kone headed a presentable close-range chance over the bar, most of the action was taking place in the Everton half and it was no surprise when Cazorla doubled his side’s lead on 58 minutes. Following a short corner, the Spain playmaker turned his marker before despatching a low drive past Robles.
Four minutes later two became three as Ozil crowned a wonderful performance by exchanging a quick one-two with Cazorla and finishing emphatically past Robles.
A rampant Arsenal side threatened to make it 4-0 when Oxlade-Chamberlain broke through down the left before sending a cute diagonal chip narrowly wide of the far post but the England midfielder was punished with 15 minutes to go when he ceded possession to Barry. In a flash Barkley was on to the opportunity and laced an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of Cech’s net.
The Blues might even have clawed their way back into the match when Barry met another pinpoint free-kick from Garbutt, only to steer his header straight into the arms of Cech. But Arsenal held on to claim seventh edition of the Barclays Asia Trophy.