Singapore: FA Cup holders Arsenal claimed more silverware and sent out a message of intent for the new Premier League season as they overpowered Everton 3-1 to win the Barclays Asia Trophy on Saturday.
Arsenal team celebrates winning the Barclays Asia Trophy 2015 after beating Everton 3-1 at Singapore National Stadium in Singapore. Pic/AFP
Theo Walcott opened the scoring for the Gunners midway through the first half and Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil struck in a four-minute spell after the interval before Ross Barkley pulled back a late consolation goal for Everton in front of a crowd of more than 52,000 at the National Stadium.
"I am pleased with this performance because the focus in pre-season is to get the quality of our game back and for long periods we played in a convincing way," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "I believe the game tonight was a great advert for the Premier League in Asia and for us it was a perfect trip because we had tremendous conditions, fantastic fans and we had two convincing games with no injuries so that's fantastic."
Playing his first game for Arsenal following his transfer from Chelsea last month, goalkeeper Petr Cech was called into action after eight minutes to smother Gerard Deulofeu's dangerous cut-back from the right by-line. However, the Gunners dominated possession and they took the lead in the 22nd minute when Cazorla chipped the ball forward from the centre-circle for Walcott who beat goalkeeper Joe Robless in a race for the ball and fired home from the edge of the Everton box.
Everton had the ball in the net in the 41st minute when Arouna Kone's shot was deflected in after Cech had tipped a Steven Naismith header against the crossbar but the offside flag had already gone up. Cech made a fine save to turn away an angled drive by Luke Garbutt early in the second half but Arsenal then turned up the pressure with Walcott shooting narrowly wide and Robless making good saves to deny Cazorla and Hector Bellerin.
But the Arsenal pressure finally told in the 58th minute when Cazorla received the ball from Ozil on the right of the Everton box and cut inside before firing a low shot past Robless at his near post. Kone missed a glorious opportunity to cut the deficit when he headed over an inviting cross by Phil Jagielka on the hour and Arsenal took full advantage of the let-off as Ozil played a one-two with Cazorla before bursting into the box to fire past Robless.
Barkley got a consolation goal for Everton with 15 minutes left, firing a rasping left-footed drive past Cech from 20 metres after the Arsenal defence had been caught in possession in their own half. Despite the defeat, Everton manager Roberto Martinez was pleased with the benefits that his side had gained from taking part in the competition.
"In pre-season, you don't get many opportunities to get a competitive game like that against the quality of Arsenal and from that point of view, it was a great workout," said the Spaniard. "Obviously we wanted to win and probably it showed that we are in pre-season because the lapses of concentration were very poor by our standard.
But all in all, I thought it was the perfect way to stretch the squad and test it, and I think that the benefits from this tournament will be immense. Stoke City had earlier secured third place in the competition after goals in either half by Steve Sidwell and Marko Arnautovic gave them a 2-0 win over a Singapore Select XI.