Beaten Arsenal lift Emirates Cup despite Sevilla finishing with 100% record


The first thing to say after this is that Sevilla will surely be on to Fifa about a change to the format of the Emirates Cup. The club that finished fourth in last season’s La Liga beat Arsenal 2-1 to finish with a 100% record in the pre- season tournament, yet they did not lift the trophy.

That honour fell to Arsenal. Why? Because points are awarded not only for victories but for each goal scored and Arsenal had bagged five in their win over Benfica on Saturday. In the end, Arsène Wenger’s team finished level on points and goal difference with Sevilla but they edged above them on goals scored. Wenger has long argued that football ought not to be about results and here was his vision in its purest form.

Except that Arsenal did not play particularly beautifully. There was a goal for Alexandre Lacazette, the £53m new signing, on the occasion of his first start at the Emirates Stadium – a moment to elevate a nondescript performance from him – but there was little else to cheer, apart from a dynamic display at wing-back from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal’s best player by a distance here, and a couple of bursts from Danny Welbeck.

At the end, the Emirates PA announcer declared it as “another special moment for the Arsenal” as the trophy was presented and the silver tape exploded into the air. But Per Mertesacker, the captain, did not even lift it above his head. Sevilla’s players milled about looking a little bemused.

Wenger had sent out a strong line-up and it will be a surprise if he makes too many changes for next Sunday’s Community Shield against Chelsea. Granit Xhaka will return for Joe Willock, the 17-year-old midfielder, while the new signing Sead Kolasinac will push for inclusion at left wing-back ahead of Oxlade- Chamberlain. Will Rob Holding replace Mohamed Elneny, who Wenger tried once again in his back three?