Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was on the periphery of the Arsenal side last term as the England international contended with a number of injuries throughout the 2014-15 campaign. The 21-year-old won’t want to emulate his team-mate Theo Walcott. He arrived at Emirates Stadium from Southampton with much fanfare but has never really established himself as a first-team regular as a result of a catalogue of fitness problems. Alexis Sanchez’s arrival and Santi Cazorla’s stellar form has left Oxlade-Chamberlain with work to do if he wants to climb the pecking order at the club. So what better chance to impress manager Arsene Wenger and a sold-out Emirates Stadium than a sharp performance against Lyon in their Emirates Cup opener? Oxlade-Chamberlain duly delivered. Coming up against 19-year-old Lyon left-back Ulrich Jenssen, the England forward was a constant menace down the right wing. The Norwegian was unable to cope with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s superior combination of pace and trickery, and he capped a fine first-half display with a superb strike, showcasing his improving accuracy with a low finish past Anthony Lopes. If he can carry this form into the Premier League and avoid any injury setbacks, Wenger will have a welcome selection headache.
The Saturday papers won’t have made pleasant reading for Olivier Giroud after speculation in the media claimed Arsenal are lining up an £8m bid for Juventus striker Fernando Llorente. A surprise move considering the former Athletic Bilbao striker shares many of the same traits as Giroud: exceptional heading ability, tall and muscular and an obvious lack of pace. If that wasn’t cause enough to make an impression against Olympique Lyonnais in their Emirates Cup opener, then the presence of another touted Gunners target, Alexandre Lacazette, provided further motivation for the Gunners striker. The Lyon striker would be a more logical signing for the FA Cup holders as he offers something that Giroud doesn’t: acceleration and pace. The France international showcased his best asset as he guided a header past Lopes to trigger an Arsenal rout in the first half. Although it took a slightly fortunate deflection of his shoulder, it still highlighted his continued presence upfront. A timely reminder to his manager that he is the right man to lead the Arsenal front-line.
Mesut Ozil has shown glimpses of his unquestionable talent since his move to The Emirates in 2013. The £42.5m sparkled in the opening couple months of his Gunners career before he burned out in the second half of 2013-14 season. A serious knee injury sentenced Ozil to three months on the sidelines last season before he returned this year in time to guide Arsenal to a third-place finish and consecutive FA Cup crowns. Now, with a full pre-season under his belt after the distraction of winning the World Cup last summer, Ozil should be ready to produce his best season in north London to date. The pre-season signs are promising. The Germany international was on the score sheet against Everton last weekend, and the 26-year-old was near his swaggering best against Lyon. His set-piece delivery found Giroud for the opener before he perfectly timed a low pass to Aaron Ramsey for the Welshman’s first-half goal. Ozil has scored just 12 times in 71 games for Arsenal since his club-record move, a statistic that the midfielder will want to improve this season. And the World Cup winner netted an emphatic fifth for the hosts to seal an impressive return to The Emirates for player and club.
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