Arsenal had their first home game back in the Emirates Stadium and began in spectacular fashion by firing five past Benfica. It was a game of firsts for the London club, with Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell scoring their first goals in a Gunner’s uniform and Alexis Sanchez and Callum Chambers making their debuts for the club. Unexpectedly the young Frenchman Sanogo had not just one goal, but four. Joel Campbell, a Costa Rican striker who has been out on loan the past three seasons, had the other goal for Arsenal.
The game was part of the annual Emirates Cup hosted by the Gunners. The tournament consists of four teams, including the hosts and is played on the first weekend in August. Teams each play two matches; one per day, and the winner is decided on a point system. In addition to the usual three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss, the teams are awarded an additional point for each goal they score.
Arsenal defeated Benfica 5-1 on Saturday, August 2 and therefore earned eight points in their first match. Benfica are no pushovers though. Last year the Portuguese Club won a domestic treble and came within a penalty shootout of winning Europe’s second most prestigious trophy, the Europa League. In the other game on Saturday Monaco tied Valencia with two goals apiece, thus earning three points for the sides. The hosts will play Monaco on Sunday August 3 and Benfica will play Valencia.
Sanogo stole the headlines for the Gunners, but Hector Bellerin, Joel Campbell and Aaron Ramsey all also had phenomenal games as Arsenal fired five past Benfica in the Emirates Cup. Bellerin was a bit of a surprise. The display from the Frenchman was excellent from right back and shows that he is ready to get some first team minutes for the club. He may follow Carl Jenkinson and get a loan move away from Arsenal to ensure steady first team experience. Aaron Ramsey had a great display as well. He assisted Sanogo’s first goal and was heavily involved throughout the game.
Campbell has been linked to a number of moves away from the Gunners this summer, especially after putting in such a good performance for Costa Rica at the World Cup. Manager Arsene Wenger has told the media that Campbell is most definitely in his first team plans this year, and the striker’s performance showed that Wenger should be encouraged by the 22-year-old’s promise.
Sanogo’s first goal was arguably the best of the four. It was a tap-in finish, but was taken in calmly and back-heel Cruyffed the Ramsey assisted ball into the net from inside the six-yard box. Sanogo’s second goal was also a tap-in from inside the six. This time Ramsey played Campbell over the top of the Benfica defense. Instead of finishing the play off, Campbell found Sanogo wide open.
Then to complete his first half hat-trick the Frenchman got on the end of a Kieran Gibbs cross, touched the ball to himself, and then flicked the ball into the net with his right foot. It was a goal that showed individual confidence and composure for the striker. His fourth goal and Arsenal’s fifth came in the 49th minute. It was another tap-in finish. Ramsey was making a run down the right and fired a shot at goal. The Benfica keeper saved it, but pushed the ball towards the penalty spot and Sanogo slotted it into the far post.
Manager Arsene Wenger noted that the club had been working hard with Sanogo to build up his physical frame, but that also he was just as surprised by the four-goal output as many of the fans and media were. Alexis Sanchez came on in the 73rd minute and is expected to feature heavily on Sunday. The Gunner’s also had four unused substitute that will likely start against Monaco, first team keeper Wojciech Szczesny, new signing Mathieu Debuchy and his French teammates Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal will look to continue their winning ways against Monaco in the Emirates Cup after firing five past Benfica.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash