Arsenal behind-closed-doors friendly details as Nketiah hits hat-trick

Arsenal returned to action with a behind-closed-doors friendly win over Charlton on Saturday afternoon.

Mikel Arteta’s men are gearing up for a return to Premier League action later this month and they made light work of the Championship side.

Eddie Nketiah helped himself to a second half hat-trick for the Gunners in the 6-0 rout, as the England Under-21 striker looks to secure a starting place when the North London side return to action.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Joe Willock were all also on target at the Emirates.

Arsenal head to Manchester City on June 17 to kick off the Premier League’s resumption.

The pair face off in their re-arranged game – owing to City’s participation in the League Cup Final – to bring themselves up to 29 games, level with the others.

And in a game where players arrived at the venue already dressed in their respective kits, and where the officiating was taken care of by the coaches of the two sides, Arteta will have been delighted to see his key attackers on target in their 45 minute run-outs.

French No.9 Lacazette opened the scoring, bagging with a fine strike from outside of the box after Ainsley Maitland-Niles nodded down David Luiz's raking long pass.

Club captain Aubameyang, whose future remains in question amid his contract situation, added a second with a fine effort, cutting in from the left and curling into the far corner.

The pair were among a number of changes at the break, as the incoming Nketiah offered food for thought to his boss – and not just for the next seven weeks.

The youngster has impressed since returning from his loan at Leeds United in January, at a time when Lacazette wasn’t quite at his best.

On a number of occasions Arteta has preferred Nketiah as his central striker, and he won’t have done his chances of more minutes any harm with a clinical display.

Amid suggestions that Atletico Madrid are continuing to monitor Lacazette and could be interested in splashing out on the ex-Lyon forward, he is certainly giving Arteta plenty to think about.

Nketiah showed his quick reactions to tap home a Dani Ceballos free-kick to make it 3-0, and made it four with a cool finish after running free of the home defence, onto a clipped pass from Sokratis.

A fine cross from Willock allowed Nketiah to head home and make it five, before the young midfielder himself rounded off the scoring with an excellent first-time effort.

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Noticeable by their inclusion in the ‘first’ XI were Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Nelson started on the right wing in Arteta’s preferred 4-2-3-1 shape, with Maitland-Niles impressing with an all-action display alongside Matteo Guendouzi in the centre of midfield.

Granit Xhaka partnered Ceballos in that position in the second period, where Sokratis started at right-back as Rob Holding and Pablo Mari played alongside one another at the heart of defence.

Arsenal starting XI

Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Tierney; Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles; Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Arsenal second XI

Martinez; Sokratis, Holding, Mari, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ceballos; Pepe, Willock, Martinelli; Nketiah

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