By Steven Griffiths
London (AFP) – Arsenal stepped up their impressive preparations for the new season by winning the Emirates Cup for the first time since 2010 as Theo Walcott‘s strike clinched a 1-0 win over Wolfsburg on Sunday.
Walcott’s second half goal ensured Arsene Wenger’s side took the silverware as they finished above Villarreal, who also won both their matches but had an inferior goals scored record, in the four-team pre-season tournament at their Emirates Stadium.
After a swaggering 6-0 rout of Lyon on Saturday, this was a more prosaic performance from the hosts, but there was still plenty to encourage Gunners boss Wenger ahead of their Premier League opener against West Ham on August 9.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, the only major signing made by Wenger since the end of last season, marked his home debut with the kind of composed display that was so often missing during Arsenal’s goalkeeping woes in recent years.
After starting last season’s FA Cup final win against Aston Villa in the central striker’s role he has coveted for much of his career, Walcott’s cool finish provided further evidence the winger might be ready to make a permanent transition this season.
There was also a tantalising glimpse into Arsenal’s future as 17-year-old French midfielder Jeff Reine-Adelaide made an eye-catching start 24 hours after an equally effervescent performance from fellow teenager Alex Iwobi.
And, having already secured the Asia Trophy earlier this month, the Gunners can now clinch a hat-trick of pre-season trophies if they defeat Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley next Sunday.
“Our technical level was good, but it was maybe less spectacular than yesterday because our final ball wasn’t at the top level,” Wenger said.
“We gave them many more problems in the second half because we pushed up more and overall it was two good days.”
Despite his long spell with bitter rivals Chelsea, Cech was given a warm welcome by the Arsenal fans in his second appearance for the club.
Relieved to see Wenger finally sign a world-class ‘keeper, fans greeted 33-year-old Czech’s first touch, comfortably holding a Kevin De Bruyne cross, with a standing ovation.