Valencia triumphed in the Emirates Cup 2014 as they beat Benfica 3-1 to claim the trophy on Sunday with Arsenal losing 1-0 to Monaco.
The Gunners missed out on winning their home pre-season tournament despite their opening 5-1 victory over Benfica on Saturday, denied a penalty late on against the Ligue 1 side. Per Bleacher Report UK:
However, Valencia were good value for their tournament win and will take heart ahead of the new La Liga season having finished a lowly eighth last term.
Here are the scores from the weekend's matches:
|Aug. 2||Valencia vs. Monaco||2-2|
|Aug. 2||Arsenal vs. Benfica||5-1|
|Aug. 3||Benfica vs. Valencia||1-3|
|Aug. 3||Arsenal vs. Monaco||0-1|
Let's have a look at some of the notable performances from the action in pre-season in North London.
Sanogo Bags Four
The Gunners' opening 5-1 win was an all-round encouraging performance for Arsenal fans as well as something of a surprise as the often-underwhelming Yaya Sanogo scored four goals.
The 21-year-old French striker was much maligned last season as he failed to register a single goal, but his performance against the Portuguese side offered great encouragement in a superlative display, per football writer Iain Macintosh:
Sanogo is absolutely monstering them. This just isn’t fair.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) August 2, 2014
Furthermore, there were fine displays from a whole host of Arsenal players as boss Arsene Wenger laid plans for a title challenge in the new Premier League season, per French football journalist Julien Laurens:
Impressive from Arsenal today. 4 goals for Sanogo, Ramsey, Chambers, Campbell and Bellerin great, debut for Sanchez too. Perfect afternoon.— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) August 2, 2014
However, as BT Sport's Jake Humphrey highlighted, the Benfica side at the Emirates was a far cry from the one that won the domestic treble in Portugal last season, although Arsenal still deserved credit:
Benfica not the team that nailed the treble last season, but they're still strong & this Arsenal side have ripped them apart. #impressive— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) August 2, 2014
Monaco presented something of a tougher challenge, and Arsenal looked far less convincing on Sunday, thus a perfect weekend it was not for the Gunners, but there were certainly encouraging signs.
The long-awaited return of Radamel Falcao for Monaco saw the Colombian bag the winner against Arsenal in his first start in six months.
A first-half header from a free-kick was enough for Monaco to claim a good win, and the Ligue 1 side looked impressive, causing Arsenal plenty of problems.
Falcao's goalscoring return will be very encouraging for Monaco ahead of the new season, although the 28-year-old may be on his way to Real Madrid, per Agence France-Presse's Tom Williams:
Falcao applauded off after a 58-minute run-out. Has proved his fitness and scored a goal. Encouraging signs for Monaco/Real Madrid...— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) August 3, 2014
The fact that Valencia were able to bag two goals in their draw with Monaco and then beat Benfica 3-1 showed they were worthy winners of the tournament. However, as BBC Sport's Gary Lineker points out, there is very little relevance to pre-season games:
For all you fans affected by your club's pre-season friendly results...they mean nothing, absolutely nothing.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 3, 2014
A strong tournament then for Valencia and Monaco, a shocker for Benfica and a mixed weekend for hosts Arsenal.
But with four quality sides on show, the competition will have offered each of them valuable preparation time ahead of their respective league seasons.