BLACKBURN, England (AFP) - Emmanuel Adebayor hit a hat-trick as Arsenal warmed up for the start of their Champions League campaign by thumping Blackburn 4-0 on Saturday.
The Togo striker had begun the day without a Premier League goal to his name this season but ended it by taking home the match ball as Arsene Wenger's side coasted to victory at Ewood Park.
Arsenal never looked back after Robin van Persie opened the scoring in the eighth minute before an outstanding move led to Adebayor making it 2-0 on the stroke of half time.
Adebayor increased the London club's lead from the penalty spot in the 81st minute and then celebrated his hat-trick in the third minute of stoppage time.
It ensures that Wenger's side travel to Ukraine in good spirits for Wednesday's opening Champions League group game with Dynamo Kiev.
Despite signing a three-month contract on the eve of the game, there was no place for former England and Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler in the Blackburn team as Paul Ince made two changes to the side thumped 4-1 by West Ham on their last appearance on the Premier League stage.
Danny Simpson, on loan from Manchester United, replaced injured Holland defender Andre Ooijer while there was a home debut for Keith Andrews following his move from Milton Keynes Dons last month.
This was the first of three successive away games for Arsenal yet Wenger opted against resting any of his big names ahead of their midweek trip to eastern Europe.
Despite his hat-trick heroics for England three days earlier, Theo Walcott had been widely tipped to start the match on the bench.
But he was promoted to the starting line-up in place of injured French midfielder Samir Nasri.
Walcott had teased and tormented the Croatia defence in Zagreb and the 19-year-old displayed his box of tricks as he teed-up Van Persie to open the scoring in the eighth minute.
He held off a number of challenges before releasing the ball for the Dutch striker to fire beyond Paul Robinson, Van Persie's third goal in his last two Premier League outings.
Van Persie buried a great chance into the side netting after a super 29th minute move involving Brazil midfielder Denilson and Adebayor before lashing a 41st minute effort wide after being picked out by the lively Walcott.
This was not quite a vintage performance by Wenger's side yet the build-up to their second goal at the end of the first half, which sealed Arsenal's first away win of the campaign, was simply breathtaking.
Arsenal's players completed 27 successful passes before the unmarked Adebayor headed home Denilson's cross.
Blackburn had their chances, Roque Santa Cruz and Brett Emerton both going close, but the home side lacked Arsenal's clinical finishing.
Robinson was beaten for the third time after referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot in the closing stages following Stephen Warnock's foul on Emmanuel Eboue, Adebayor doing the rest.
With Arsenal in complete control, Wenger gave Jack Wilshere his moment in the spotlight. Aged 16 years and 256 days, Wilshere becomes the youngest player in Premier League history after replacing van Persie in the 83rd minute.
And the youngster was able to celebrate with his team-mates as man-of-the-match Adebayor completed the rout deep into stoppage time with a close range finish.
|9||R. Santa Cruz|
|Coach: P. Ince|
for J. Roberts 69'
for Morten Pedersen 69'
for D. Simpson 74'
|Blanc hails ´motivated and disciplined´ PSG|
|Van Gaal: Easier for Leicester to sign players than United|
|No shocks as Paraguay announce provisional Copa squad|
|Suarez headlines Uruguay´s Copa America squad|
|Sturridge reveals he is ´not Liverpool for life´ and hopes to match Suarez success|
|David Luiz, Silva and Marcelo absent from Brazil´s preliminary Copa America squad|
|Augsburg 0 Cologne 0: Weinzierl´s men edge closer to survival|
|Sporting Gijon 2 Eibar 0: Hosts boost survival hopes|
|Klopp has no regrets over Sturridge snub|
|Birmingham City 2 Middlesbrough 2: Karanka´s men left to rue Davis volley|
|Sterling can make the difference for City, insists Pellegrini|
|Paris Saint-Germain 4 Rennes 0: Blanc´s men equal Ligue 1 points record|
|Juventus complete permanent Lemina capture|
|Lazio v Inter: Melo working hard for Brazil recall|
|AC Milan v Frosinone: Galliani insists Honda will stay|
|Pochettino still believes Tottenham can win Premier League|
|Manchester United v Leicester City: Ranieri aiming for Hollywood ending to title push|
|Juventus v Carpi: Pogba already eyeing further titles|
|Mahrez fled St Mirren trial on a bike due to ´abusive´ Scottish weather|
|United cannot allow Leicester to claim title at Old Trafford – Van Gaal|
|Simeone confident Saul will stay at Atleti|
|Stendel handed Hannover deal despite relegation|
|Hughes: I will not encourage Everton rumours|
|Swansea City v Liverpool: Focused Klopp puts Villarreal on the back-burner|
|Allardyce mind games will not make a difference – Benitez|
|Statistics disprove Wenger´s away-day champions claim|
|Pochettino defends Alli after punch ´mistake´|
|Koeman hints at Southampton extension|
|Southampton v Manchester City: Pellegrini eyes Premier League momentum|
|Ranieri: This is history, but I am not nervous|
|Chelsea skipper Terry to return for Tottenham clash|
|City fume at Premier League fixtures|
|Totti to Barca? Why not!? - Luis Enrique|
|Klopp hits out at Swansea scheduling|
|Guardiola talks up Germany centre-half - but it´s not Mats Hummels|
|Pellegrini concern over Toure fitness|
|Pochettino verbally agrees new contract|
|Tuchel happy for Hummels to remain Dortmund captain|
|Luis Enrique unconcerned about playing after Real and Atletico|
|Zidane demands Sociedad focus|
|Robben not out for the season|
|Capello: Determination key to Simeone success|
|Weakening Bundesliga rivals is Bayern´s philosophy - Thon|
|Madrid refusing to rule Ronaldo out of City clash|
|Redknapp takes Central Coast Mariners consultancy job|
|Rashford reminds me of Van Basten - Merson|
|Wenger blames Emirates atmosphere for Arsenal title slump|
|O´Neill compares ´extraordinary´ Leicester to Clough´s Forest|
|Zamparini sanctioned for Infantino comments|
|´It was this year or never´ - Mahrez on Leicester´s title tilt|
|Allardyce hails ´mini-miracle´ transfer window|
|Howe not celebrating survival just yet|
|Hummels has ´behaved impeccably´, says Watzke|
|Keeping Koeman must be Saints´ ´number one priority´ - Le Tissier|
|Pogba: I want to be better than Pele and Maradona|
|Wenger rounds on Arsenal critics|
|Platini optimistic as CAS hearing begins|
|Dembele still believes Tottenham can lift title|
|Le Saux hails ruthless Ranieri|
|Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers: Heartache to end for one as quest for first championship|
|Torres tight-lipped on Atletico future|
|Martinez has no guarantees over Everton future|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Independiente stun defending champions, Tevez leads Boca|
|Bilic backs video technology|
|Olsen: Faroe Islands inspired Leicester´s title bid|
|Herrera: United don´t want Leicester to win title at Old Trafford|
|Hart out to erase painful Bernabeu memories|
|Perisic: Liverpool and Chelsea should talk to Inter|
|Allardyce doubts Palace focus ahead of Newcastle trip|
|Weah to run for president of Liberia|
|Klopp warns Villarreal Europa League tie is not over|
|Pique: Losing La Liga would be a failure|
|Villarreal were not lucky to beat Liverpool - Marcelino|
|Lucescu: Shakhtar still believe in final|
|Emery insists Sevilla not there yet|
|Toure and Mignolet confident of Liverpool turnaround|
|Appeals Committee upholds Simeone´s three-game ban|
|Klopp baffled by Liverpool defensive collapse|
|Villarreal 1 Liverpool 0: Adrian hands injury-time advantage to La Liga side|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Sevilla 2: Gameiro nets late penalty to salvage draw|
|Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach: Wounded Bayern on the brink of Bundesliga glory|
|Reina lauds Atletico ´super-team´|
|AC Milan announce €89.3m loss|
|Wilshere: Injuries inevitable with my style of play|
|Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano: Saul demands La Liga focus|
|Mancini feels Toure swoop is unlikely|
|Atletico a joy to watch, says Allardyce|
|Liverpool ordered to pay record tribunal fee to Burnley for Ings|
|Klaassen not interested in Napoli move|
|Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg: Hummels transfer request disrupts hosts´ preparation|
|Alli banned for the rest of Spurs´ season by FA|
|West Brom v West Ham: Bilic tips Pulis to put up a fight|
|Agbonlahor steps down as Aston Villa captain|
|Real Betis v Barcelona: Mixed emotions for Montoya as visitors close in on title|
|Hummels tells Dortmund he wants Bayern move|
|Matuidi out of PSG-Rennes clash|
|Newcastle United v Crystal Palace: Pardew poised for St James´ return|
|Flores reveals Watford break clause|
|England´s Jones helps Pardew keep Eagles grounded|
|Arsenal v Norwich City: Under-fire Wenger buoyed by easing injury woes|
|Forster: Chelsea rumours a compliment|
|Lambert to leave Blackburn|
|Sakho provisionally suspended by UEFA|
|Stoke City v Sunderland: Allardyce wary of wounded Potters|
|Falcao: USA can win Copa America|
|Madrid confirm Benzema hamstring strain|
|Everton v AFC Bournemouth: Martinez wants repeat of Wembley second-half|
|Fabregas wants title challenge under Conte|
|The pressure got to me at Tottenham, reveals Soldado|
|Bilic has no concerns over Cresswell future|
|Bilic: I might have to be a Manchester United fan!|
|Real Sociedad v Real Madrid: Carvajal hoping to cope without Benzema and Ronaldo|
|Martinez: Judge me over three seasons, not two or three months|
|Unhappy Muller accepts being dropped for Atletico clash|
|Cattermole crucial to Sunderland relegation fight - Allardyce|
|Leicester success not a one-off - Mandaric|
|There cannot be two coaches of Inter - Mancini|
|Guardiola: Don´t compare Saul to Messi|
|MLS Review: NYC stumble again, Timbers hold Revolution|
|America 2 Tigres UANL 1 (4-1 agg): Arroyo, Martinez seal win|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Rosario claim away advantage, Corinthians hold Nacional|
|PSG prospect Edouard signs first professional contract|
|Gap between Juventus and Milan is ´embarrassing´ - Sacchi|
|Mancini: I made some errors this season|
|Schlupp: Leicester are playing to win the title|
|Leicester showing nothing is impossible - Del Piero|
|Zidane does not like James, claims Valderrama|
|Pressure on ´legendary´ Liverpool - Marcelino|
|Madrid clash ´career-defining´ - Kompany|
|Neuer: We have to be awake in Munich|
|Moreno: I´m at my best thanks to Klopp|
|Bale: City are elite but Madrid more mature|
|We showed we belong - Oblak|
|Torres: This is for the Atletico supporters|
|Alonso: It could have been worse but Bayern still believe|
|Simeone praises ´best´ Atletico after Bayern triumph|