BARCLAYS ASIA TROPHY 2015

Gunners a class apart

Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles and right-back Seamus Coleman watching helplessly as Theo Walcott's shot crosses the line to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.
Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles and right-back Seamus Coleman watching helplessly as Theo Walcott's shot crosses the line to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Arsenal club skipper Mikel Arteta lifting the Barclays Asia Trophy as his team-mates celebrate. Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles and right-back Seamus Coleman watching helplessly as Theo Walcott's shot crosses the line to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.
Arsenal club skipper Mikel Arteta lifting the Barclays Asia Trophy as his team-mates celebrate. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Smooth play and sharp strikes in convincing show put them in good stead for title chase

Arsenal 3 Everton 1

The swagger and the ease with which they swept Everton aside has given Arsenal a boost ahead of the new English Premier League season, where the title is the club's target.

In a convincing performance, the Gunners served notice of their title credentials by beating the Toffees 3-1 in the Barclays Asia Trophy final yesterday evening before a crowd of 52,107 at the National Stadium - a record figure for the Kallang arena that opened last June.

Arsenal, with new signing Petr Cech in goal, looked a complete team, comfortably dismantling the Merseysiders and looking a class apart at times.

At the heart of it all was 30-year-old Spanish pass master and captain for the night Santi Cazorla, who finished the night with one goal and two assists.

  • EPL chief raises hopes of repeat visit

  • Over two match days, 81,974 fans turned up at the National Stadium to watch the Barclays Asia Trophy games, featuring English Premier League teams Arsenal, Everton and Stoke City, as well as a Singapore Selection. The number is a record for the tournament.

    Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told The Sunday Times: "We will sit and have a complete debrief of everything that happened here... then we will turn our attentions to where we might go next.

    "We don't like to promise when or how, because obviously other places also have an interest in this, (but) I can see every chance that we will be back."

    Chua Siang Yee

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was a happy man at the post-match press conference as he left the floor in stitches with some witty replies.

Asked if he was surprised by his team's display, the Frenchman said: "A little bit, because yesterday we had quite a good strong session and I found the players a little bit tired but they were quite sharp today.

"I'm pleased with the performance because... we played in a very convincing way. It's good to increase the level of confidence with performances like that."

Theo Walcott, Cazorla, and Mesut Oezil scored to help Arsenal make it 14 wins in their last 18 matches. Ross Barkley netted a stunning consolation for the Toffees.

Cech, making his Arsenal debut after moving across London from Chelsea, also put in a decent shift in goal. While he was powerless to stop Barkley's screamer, the Czech pulled off a spectacular save to deny Luke Garbutt's ferocious shot from 20 metres out.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez bemoaned his side's lapses in concentration for the three goals, but praised his opponents.

Said the Spaniard: "We're probably facing the strongest Arsenal side, aside from Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal were very clinical, they took their chances well and are worthy winners."

Arsenal, known for their short-passing game, showed a willingness to deviate from Plan A, with Walcott's opener coming courtesy of a Cazorla long ball through the middle.

The Spaniard then doubled his team's lead, firing home just inside the area after flummoxing James McCarthy with his footwork.

Cazorla then found Oezil in the box with a slide-rule pass, and the German made no mistake.

Overall, it seemed like a fun day out for match-goers, even for the neutral fans.

Fund manager Chia Yew Nguan, 53, who does not have a favourite team, said: "I've never been to the National Stadium, so I thought it would be nice to soak up the atmosphere.

"It was electrifying, especially the Kallang Wave and the cheering."

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud also had good memories of the tournament.

The forward said: "The people are fantastic. I know we have a lot of fans around the world, but every time I am surprised by the kindness. It's really nice for us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2015, with the headline 'GUNNERS A CLASS APART'. Print Edition | Subscribe