SINGAPORE - Arsenal overwhelmed Everton in an attacking display full of verve and precision on Saturday night to capture their first silverware of the season.
In front of their adoring fans inside a packed 55,000-seater National Stadium, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners ran out 3-1 winners in the final of the 2015 Barclays Asia Trophy.
Sticking to his pre-match promise, the Frenchman deployed his big guns against the Toffees and included the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscieny in his starting eleven.
But it was captain Santi Cazorla, operating at the base of Arsenal’s midfield, who stood out as he dictated the play and picked apart the Merseyside club’s defence.
The Spaniard’s lofted pass in the 22nd minute created the opener as Walcott nipped in front of fullback Seamus Coleman and steered the ball low past Everton’s Joel Robles.
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, a £10 million signing from Chelsea, was making his debut for the North London side and was called into action four mintues before the interval, tipping Steven Naismith’s header onto the bar.
Arouna Kone’s subsequent rebound effort was disallowed after it deflected off teammate Gareth Barry, who was judged to have been offside by the linesman.
The defending FA Cup winners continued to give Everton the runaround in the second half and Walcott should have doubled the lead after finding space in the box but dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Cazorla took matters into his own hands with some sublime skill. Twice he fooled James McCarthy before drilling a low shot past Robles in the 58th minute.
He collected his second assist of the match after a neat one-two with Ozil sent the German through on goal and Arsenal’s record signing made no mistake to put his team three goals up after an hour’s play.
A thunderous left-footed shot by substitute Ross Barkely in the 75th minute may have ruin Cech’s clean sheet but there was no denying Arsenal’s undoubted class at the final whistle.