By Chris Harris at Viking Stadion
The goals flowed as Arsenal continued their preparations for the new season with a comfortable win in Norway.
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Joel Campbell touched in Mohamed Elneny’s towering header to give the Gunners a half-time lead and Santi Cazorla - who missed an early penalty - crashed in a second.
That heralded a spell of four goals in just nine minutes as Theo Walcott, an own goal and Campbell made it five. Amid a flurry of substitutions there was time for Alex Iwobi to net a sixth and a solo seventh. Chuba Akpom scored too - his third goal in pre-season.
What began as a physical test against an energetic Viking side ended as a procession, but Arsenal grafted hard before overwhelming their hosts in the second half.
This was another step in the right direction. Now for the final test of pre-season against a more familiar rival - Manchester City in Gothenburg on Sunday.
SETTING THE SCENE
Arsenal’s Norwegian fans regularly make the hop across the North Sea to see their team at Emirates Stadium, but they’ve waited almost 12 years for the club to make the return trip.
That was a Champions League game against Rosenberg some 500 miles away from Viking Stadion, the latest outpost in Arsenal’s pre-season journey.
Off the pitch the Gunners were welcomed by an excitable crowd and a belligerent viking mascot as they stepped off the team bus. On the pitch they faced a side well into their Tippeligaen season. Viking’s next league fixture is on Sunday; this was a most glamorous warm-up in front of their first sell-out crowd since May 2014.
No one received a louder cheer than Alexis as the visitors arrived but the Chilean would sit this game out, as would Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Calum Chambers. Gabriel returned to the side after tonsillitis, David Ospina got the nod in goal, Walcott continued up front and Cazorla captained the side.
Arsenal, donning their new yellow kit for the first time, were quick out of the blocks and won a penalty inside three minutes.
A flowing move, instigated by Walcott’s clever touch and continued by Elneny, finished with a deft flick from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to release Debuchy. He was bundled over but Cazorla’s spot-kick, though well hit, was brilliantly pushed away by Iven Austbo.
Bielik started the game well - his centre-back education continuing apace - but Viking did eventually put Arsenal under pressure. Kieran Gibbs had to head clear after a foul on Gabriel went unnoticed, and Karol Mets nodded just over from a corner.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, arguably the star of pre-season, whizzed past his marker on the left and set up a half-chance for Walcott. That was defended well but Viking needed Austbo at his best seconds later, his sharp reflexes repelling Elneny’s firm header.
Eventually Austbo was beaten, Cazorla’s corner picking out Elneny for a towering header which was touched into the net by Campbell. It was probably going in anyway.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Rob Holding and Iwobi came on at half-time. Viking made a raft of changes - including their goalkeeper. And then, as they say in football, the floodgates opened.
Four goals in nine minutes was a treat for Arsenal’s Norwegian fanbase and, typically, Cazorla was the catalyst.
His sweet strike from the edge of the box flew past Pal Vestly Heigre, and Walcott was next to score after a fine first touch and a rasping finish into the bottom corner.
Michael Haukas - apparently an Arsenal fan - diverted Campbell’s cross past his own keeper. Then Campbell rattled in his second - and Arsenal’s fifth - off the underside of the crossbar.
Wenger brought on five more substitutes for the final 20 minutes but Cazorla was still pulling the strings and he set up Iwobi for a low finish.
The Nigerian international made the seventh for himself, cutting inside a defender and firing in a shot off the post. And Akpom added an eighth in the last minute.
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