Gunners show firepower in 5-1 win over Benfica
(Yaya Sanogo 26, 44, 45+1, 49, Joel Campbell 40)
(Nicolas Gaitan 62)
Despite the signing of Alexis Sanchez, a perceived lack of cover up front has had Arsenal supporters fretting all summer.
Would Arsene Wenger need to sign another striker to support Olivier Giroud and the former Barcelona man?
On the evidence of their 5-1 annihilation of Benfica on the opening day of the Emirates Cup, the answer to that question would be no.
"Football surprises you always," said Arsene Wenger, after the game yesterday morning (Singapore time).
"Not only you, but me as well."
He wasn't messing around. A first-half hat-trick from Yaya Sanogo, of all people, supplemented with a goal of the highest quality from returning loanee Joel Campbell, gave Arsenal a commanding 4-0 lead at the break.
When the game restarted, Sanogo promptly added another. Sadly, he was withdrawn soon afterwards with what was thought to be a thigh strain, but was later referred to by sources at the club as "severe cramp".
The scoreline could have been even worse for Benfica. Arsenal had a solid penalty shout turned down after five minutes and spurned three great chances in two minutes, as Campbell and then Sanogo twice fluffed from close range.
And then the floodgates were emphatically smashed open by a most unlikely source.
Last season, Sanogo was a surprising choice to lead the line in some of Arsenal's most important games - the striker starting a crucial Champions League clash against Bayern Munich and also the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan at Wembley.
But, while the 21-year-old could never be faulted for effort or application, he was unable to hit the target in 14 appearances.
Bulky and occasionally a little clumsy, it was sometimes hard to see why Wenger had placed such faith in him.
Vindication of sorts, this was still only a pre-season friendly, came under the muggy August skies.
Aaron Ramsey, in the sort of form that suggests he'll start this season as he started last season, tore down the right flank, Sanogo slipped his marker and, as the low cross whistled in, the French striker managed to take it on the turn and angle it home.
The relief from the home fans was palpable.
Campbell was the scorer of the second goal, when Hector Bellerin, highly impressive at right back, eschewed the easy option, found the Costa Rican at the back of the box and saw him hammer the ball into the bottom corner with extreme prejudice.
Campbell and Sanogo combined again for a third, with the Benfica defence in tatters and the Frenchman secured a poacher's hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.
Moments after the break, Ramsey's shot was parried by Artur Moraes and landed straight at Sanogo's feet. And that was his fourth.
"We worked very hard with (Sanogo) him for six months," said Wenger after the game.
"From January, he was slowly getting better. He was essentially injured for two years before he came to us, but his scoring record before he got injured is quite frightening.
"He didn't score (last season), it was a bit of a mental block, but you could see when he scored, the goals came raining in. We want him to stay here."
Benfica rallied a little, Nicolas Gaitan pulled a goal back, but their efforts were rather summed up by Bebe, on loan from Manchester United, who, within moments of coming on, managed to shoot so far wide the ball went out for a throw-in.
Their season begins in two weeks and, if they're to have any chance of retaining their title, manager Jorge Jesus will have to hope that this was a mere blip.
Sanchez himself arrived with 16 minutes left and was greeted with rapturous applause. He moved immediately to centre forward. So much rests on his tiny frame this season.
But at least Arsenal know this season that there is cover should they need it.
Sanogo has a big future here; he is 21. He needs to play, of course, but he needs to play here... He was essentially injured for two years before he came to us, but his scoring record before he got injured is quite frightening.
Campbell has done very well. I like the way he plays. He is good on the ball and creative. He has a good balance between individual skill and collective attitude — that’s not easy to find and there is no reason to let him go.