Theo Walcott hit a brace for Arsenal to help see off Benfica in the Emirates Cup and send a timely reminder to manager Arsene Wenger.
Having fallen behind to Franco Cervi’s strike, Walcott scored twice before a Lisandro Lopez own goal and efforts from Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi sealed a 5-2 win for the hosts.
The England forward said during pre-season that he welcomes the added competition up front following the arrival of club record signing Alexandre Lacazette.
But he scored twice playing in a deeper role and, with the future of talisman Alexis Sanchez still up for debate, Walcott will have enjoyed taking centre-stage.
Benfica led when Jonas headed back to Cervi, whose low shot ricocheted off the feet of Per Mertesacker and beat David Ospina to open the scoring.
Arsenal were soon level with a goal that owed a lot to new recruit Sead Kolasinac. The free signing from Schalke won the ball on the touchline and lofted a perfect pass for Walcott to finish comfortably past former QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Kolasinac was again involved in Walcott’s second, rolling a pass to Francis Coquelin who then cut the ball in for the England forward to sweep home.
Walcott should have completed his hat-trick justA moments later, but blazed wildly over the bar after being set-up by Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman wasn’t so wasteful as he fired home Arsenal’s fourth in the 64th minute, holding off Buta to poke home a cross from Reiss Nelson, who looks an impressive prospect.
Giroud turned provider seven minutes later, cushioning the perfect lay-off from Alex Iwobi to fire home after more impressive play from Kolasinac down the left to complete the scoring.AX