By Rob Kelly at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal delivered a dazzling attacking performance against Lyon to claim a comfortable victory in their opening match of the Emirates Cup.
The Gunners took control just before the half-hour mark during a breathless nine-minute spell in which they scored four times.
It started with Olivier Giroud heading home Mesut Ozil’s free kick and moments later they doubled their lead as the rampaging Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain raced through to slot beyond Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Less than 100 seconds later and they had a third as teenage forward Alex Iwobi capped off a lively first-half showing by firing into the top corner after good work from Aaron Ramsey.
The Welshman then added a fourth in the 38th minute when he raced on to Ozil’s pass to poke the ball in at the near post.
It would take some going to match their first-half display after the restart, but the Gunners were determined to put on a show and they claimed their fifth just after the hour when Ozil drilled in a powerful shot.
Santi Cazorla added a sixth late on from a free kick, with the Gunners’ imperious display offering genuine cause for optimism ahead of the coming campaign.
SETTING THE SCENE
After the heat and humidity of Singapore, the conditions were slightly kinder for Arsenal’s first match in front of their home fans since May 24, although Emirates Stadium was still bathed in glorious sunshine.
Since their last home outing, the Gunners had retained the FA Cup, signed Petr Cech and lifted the Barclays Asia Trophy. Their next task was to win the Emirates Cup for the first time in five years and Arsene Wenger named a strong side for their opening game.
Those fans hoping for a first glimpse of Cech on home soil would have to wait though, as the experienced goalkeeper was left out in favour of Emiliano Martinez. But with the likes of Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Giroud in the starting XI, it was still a side that packed plenty of punch.
Perhaps the most intriguing name on the teamsheet was that of the promising Jeff Reine-Adelaide. The young French midfielder has made a big impression since his arrival from Lens this summer and was named on the bench.
In the days leading up to the Emirates Cup, Wenger had spoken of his “love” for the tournament and the intensity of competition that it offers his side.
Lyon wasted little time in underlining that fact, snapping into tackles from the off and fashioning the best chance of the opening exchanges when Clinton N’Jie tested Martinez at his near post with a powerful drive.
The Gunners had been at their swaggering best when claiming the Barclays Asia Trophy seven days earlier, but could not quite match that fluency in the early knockings here.
For all their dominance in possession, they struggled to connect with the final ball that would prise open their Ligue 1 opponents - but suddenly everything clicked into gear in a dazzling nine-minute spell.
Giroud got the ball rolling in the 29th minute as he muscled his way through a packed area to meet Ozil’s free kick and loop a header into the far corner for his first goal since the FA Cup final.
The celebrations around the Emirates had barely finished before Arsenal doubled their advantage in thrilling fashion as Giroud found the galloping Oxlade-Chamberlain on the counter.
The England international has spoken of his desire to add more goals to his game and he showed impressive composure to race into the box and slot the ball beyond Anthony Lopes and into the far corner.
Less than two minutes later and the Gunners had their third - and what a moment it was for the lively Iwobi. Wenger had praised the teenager on tour for the way that he has integrated into the first-team group and he will have felt even more at home after crashing home a fine first-time finish from inside the area.
A scarcely-believable fourth arrived in the 38th minute, as the rampant home side stretched Lyon again before Ozil played in Ramsey and the Wales international poked the ball under Lopes and in at the near post.
It was breathless, breathtaking stuff from Arsenal who have certainly hit the ground running in pre-season.
The Gunners had ended the first half in scintillating fashion and there was no let up after the restart as Oxlade-Chamberlain almost immediately came close to adding a fifth.
It had been a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the sun for Arsenal and their fans, but Lyon served warning of their own attacking threat when Nabil Fekir played in N’Jie and he fired just wide of the near post.
Arsenal may have done all the hard work in that dazzling first-half spell, but it did not prevent them from continuing to push for more goals and Giroud had their next chance but volleyed a Kieran Gibbs cross wide.
But they did not have long to wait for their fifth as Giroud dinked the ball to Ozil to the left of the area, and the German playmaker sealed a fantastic individual display with a smart finish beyond Lopes.
Wenger shuffled his pack to introduce the likes of Theo Walcott and Cazorla, and the latter scored the final goal of the day when his low free kick crept under the Lyon wall and into the far corner.
It was quite a way for the Gunners to reintroduce themselves to their fans in north London. Wolfsburg lie in wait next, and the Gunners will be full of confidence after this dominant display.
Emirates Cup 2015 table
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