By Andy Verspeak
Sol Campbell and Ryan Garry completed their returns from injury as Arsenal comfortably beat 10-man Leicester 5-2 at Barnet FC on Tuesday.
Nicklas Bendtner struck twice with Arturo Lupoli, Patrick Cregg and Ryan Smith also getting on the score-sheet but Joe Hamill struck two sensational left footed efforts for the Foxes.
The visitors took a surprising lead after only a minute with a superb curling free kick but lost their keeper Paul Henderson to a red card two minutes later following a mix-up.
Lupoli struck before half-time and Bendtner added two more in the second half. Hamill popped up again with another beauty but Smith finished the job off for Neil Banfield's side seven minutes from time.
Campbell began his first competive game of the season due to a calf injury alongside Matthew Connolly at centre half with Garry, who had not played a competitive 90 minutes for two years and three months, at left back.
Banfield had further experience at his disposal with Mathieu Flamini starting in central midfield and partnering Alexandre Song in his second reserve outing.
The game started with an almighty bang, seeing a goal and a sending off in the opening five minutes. Cregg gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box, but the finish from Hamill was outstanding.
The Leicester midfielder curled a beautiful effort into the top corner giving keeper Michael Jordan no chance.
Moments later the tide was turning back in Arsenal's favour when Lupoli went tumbling after rounding Henderson. The referee had no choice but to show a red card, and Conrad Logan came on as the replacement keeper. Ashley Chambers was the unlucky player who had to make way.
Banfield's side began to dominate the possession against the 10 men, creating many chances. Cregg had an effort blocked at the back post after a cross from Smith, and the England Under-19 international also supplied Connolly from an inswinging free kick but the centre half headed wide.
Arsenal finally made one count on the 21st minute. Bendtner advanced into the box and showed neat footwork but couldn't get a shot on goal. The ball broke kindly for Cregg and the Irishman curled a right-footed effort into the top corner.
Lupoli went close on numerous occasions before giving the Gunners the lead six minutes before the break. The Italian chased a long ball from the back and tucked a neat finish low past the diving Logan. You sensed Banfield's side would not buckle once they had their noses in front.
They showed as much dominance after the break, causing further problems for the opposition. Garry was replaced by Mitchell Murphy just before the hour and Arsenal extended their lead moments later through Bendtner.
Cregg's corner was not dealt with and when the ball fell the Dane on the edge of the box he rifled in a low shot towards the far post.
Arsenal continued to dominate the 10 men, stroking the ball around comfortably and threatening to open up the defence. Bendtner then put away his second of the game 10 minutes later from close range after a mix up involving Logan. The keeper flapped at a cross from the left and when the ball broke to the Dane he made no mistake side-footing home from inside the box.
The visitors hit back almost immediately with another spectacular effort from Hamill. The young winger picked up the ball in midfield and with little support tried his luck from distance sending a left-footed curling shot over the stranded Jordan and into the net.
There was still time for more from the rampant Arsenal side and Smith duly obliged on the 83rd minute. Flamini sent a ball over the top for the winger to chase and he beat Logan to the ball before slotting it coolly past him for the Gunners' fifth.
Sol Campbell leaps to head away
Song bosses the midfield
- To buy official Arsenal pictures visit www.ArsenalPics.com.
- Garry 57
- Smith Goal!
- Cregg Goal!
- Bendtner Goal! Goal!
- Lupoli Goal!
- Murphy 57