Arsenal put concerns about its lack of firepower heading into the start of new season to one side to cruise to a 8-0 victory over Viking Fk in Norway. In its penultimate game of preseason, Arsenal led just 1-0 at halftime, after Joel Campbell slid in to get the final touch on Mohamed Elneny’s header. But, against a team with its mind clearly elsewhere ahead of a league match on Sunday and that made several changes at halftime, Arsene Wenger’s side ran riot in the second half.
Santi Cazorla, who had seen a penalty saved in just the fourth minute, scored the pick of the bunch five minutes after the break with a stunning left-footed drive into the corner from 25 yards. Three more goals followed in the next 10 minutes. And there will be particular relief, not least from the man himself, that Theo Walcott was one of those to get himself on the score sheet.
Walcott has started all of Arsenal’s preseason outings as the central striker, but had yet to find the net. With Olivier Giroud handed an extended break following France’s run to the Euro 2016 final, Alexis Sanchez recovering from an ankle injury and the club failing to land a new striker this summer, Walcott has been given another chance to impress as the main man through the middle. But he had looked far from clinical in front of goal in preparation for the campaign, before finding the bottom corner of the net at6 the Viking Stadion following a cut back from Campbell.
With Giroud set to miss the start of the season and Sanchez failing to appear on Friday, despite being back in training, Walcott will hope that the goal will aid his chances of starting Arsenal’s opening game of the Premier League against Liverpool next Sunday. Sanchez, along with Aaron Ramsey, will now get just one run out before the season, against Manchester City on Sunday.
Still, Campbell suggested that Arsenal is capable of sharing the goals around and fired an unstoppable strike in off the crossbar from a tight angle to grab his second goal of the match. Minutes earlier he had set up Arsenal’s fourth when his cross was inadvertently bundled home by Viking defender Michael Haukas.
Also pleasing to Wenger will be the performance of Cazorla. The Spanish midfielder made just one appearance in the Premier League after suffering a knee injury last November, but got through the full 90 minute on Friday. And he was in fine form, too. As well as his superb goal, he orchestrated much of what Arsenal did well, including providing the corner from which his team scored its opener and supplying a perfectly weighted pass that laid on the Gunners' sixth for Alex Iwobi.
The substitute Iwobi took full advantage of his cameo, grabbing his second with a fine finish in off the post with nine minutes remaining. And there was still time for another young Arsenal forward to round out the scoring. Chuba Akpom, who minutes earlier had missed a golden chance, punced on a rebound off the goalkeeper to end a comfortable night for Wenger's men.