Arsenal expose weakened City side at Wembley
Gunners add Community Shield to FA Cup win in May
Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy is challenged by Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov during the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Arsenal 3 Manchester City 0
After eight years without a trophy Arsène Wenger now has two in two games as a breezy performance marked by three excellent goals secured a Community Shield victory against a weakened Manchester City. It is the first time Arsenal have won the shield in a decade and comes three months after their last official match resulted in victory on the same pitch in the FA Cup final against Hull City.
Quite what it means, of course, remains to be seen. City looked like a team still in hibernation mode here, while Arsenal, as they must with Champions League qualifiers coming up, seemed a step forward in their preparations.
Indeed, if confirmation were needed that this is little more than a semi-contest for a semi-trophy that fades from the memory come the first whistle of the season proper, then it is worth sparing a thought for last season’s winners. Twelve months ago victory in the Community Shield was cautiously hailed as the first step in the David Moyes Revolution at Manchester United. Also, as it turned out, the only step.
This is not to belittle Arsenal’s achievement here in beating the champions convincingly with a fine attacking performance that provided both a reminder of the qualities of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, who had a good match in central midfield, and some promising signs from the new recruits.
Indeed, this was a breezy, engaging, agreeably carefree kind of match from the start on a humid August afternoon that kicked off with the sun breaking through after a thunderstorm and the Wembley turf seeming to emit a kind of luminous green steam. Wenger’s line-up contained all three significant outfield summer signings – Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and Alexis Sánchez – while City included both Fernando, the summer signing from Porto, and Willy Caballero in goal.
In the opening minutes Sánchez combined nicely with both Yaya Sanogo and Ramsey, who showed a willingness to run in behind Gaël Clichy at right back as Arsenal set about trying to make their extra man in midfield count. City lined up here in the now fashionable 4-4-2, with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic playing as a pair of genuine centre forwards, albeit without the same tenacious commitment to tracking back that made the system work for Atlético Madrid last season.
Most of Arsenal’s early pressure came down the right side, with Sánchez given the chance to run at Aleksandar Kolarov and Debuchy ever-eager in support. Chambers also looked composed in central defence: one early challenge on Yaya Touré, easing off the ball a man who generally yields only to some form of hydraulic lifting equipment, will have given him great heart.
For all that, neither team had actually managed a shot on target before Arsenal opened the scoring in the 22nd minute via a combination of slick play by Cazorla and some loose City defending. There seemed no obvious chance of a shot at goal as Cazorla picked up the ball from Sanogo 30 yards from goal, but Dedryck Boyata’s mistimed lunge towards the ball allowed the Spaniard to roll the challenge and find some space on his left foot. Clichy couldn’t get there in time and Cazorla shot low across Caballero into the far corner.