ARSENAL 3, MAN CITY 0
It was hard to read too much into Manchester City’s comprehensive defeat by Arsenal at Wembley in The FA Community Shield.
The absence of so many of City’s key players clearly had an influence on the outcome as Arsenal lifted the season’s first piece of silverware.
The annual curtain-raiser between FA Premier League champions and FA Cup winners saw the Gunners triumph through goals from Santa Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.
And there was the sight of Arsenal fans doing the Poznan, City’s trademark goal celebration, as they taunted their opponents and savoured a second success at Wembley in less than three months.
It was a frustrating afternoon for City manager Manuel Pellegrini who preferred new-boy Willy Caballero in goal to Joe Hart which again prompted speculation about the England No 1’s position as first-choice stopper.
Pellegrini described his side’s performance as showing two different faces.
He said: “In the first half we didn’t play with pace. Arsenal scored two goals and we didn’t defend well. In the second half we played well and had chances to score.
“We had some really important players out so today was just a test.”
Pellegrini explained that seven players had only been back in training for five days and a further five only eight or nine days, mainly due to their commitments in the World Cup.
“It is always bad to lose, but there is no need to worry. The substitutes were there to engage in the game and it was not about their performances,” he continued.
Pellegrini would not be drawn on Hart’s position in the team saying all 22 players in the squad must demonstrate they are No 1 in their positions.
The City manager was also questioned about not having any English player in his starting line up, but he replied that nationality doesn’t come into the equation.
“I use players best suited to winning the game and it doesn’t matter whether they are American or Spanish,” he said.
It was far from a full-strength City side with Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Alvaro Negredo and new-signing Bacary Sagna all absentees while David Silva was on the bench.
Arsenal were marginally stronger, though German World Cup winners Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil were missing while Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Flamini were substitutes.
After an uninspiring opening, Arsenal took a 21st minute lead through Cazorla who created an opening for himself before shooting low past Caballero having been set up by Yaya Sanogo.
Spaniard Cazorla then returned the compliment releasing Sanogo who fired narrowly wide with just former Malaga keeper Caballero to beat.
Arsenal’s hold on the game strengthened when they doubled their lead three minutes before the break.
Sanogo held up the ball well before playing in Ramsey who burst towards goal and fired low past Caballero into the far corner.
It could conceivably have been worse as Arsenal came close to adding a third goal on the stroke of half time when Caballero saved well outside the box to deny Alexis Sanchez who had eluded the offside trap.
Arsenal’s intent was clear as they brought on Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal at the break while City introduced Silva for Samir Nasri as they looked for a way back into the game.
They came within inches of halving the deficit when a header from Stevan Jovetic early in the second half struck an upright with keeper Wojciech Szczesny well beaten. Jovetic went close again as he forced a fine save from Szczesny having been set up set up by Aleksander Kolarov.
But it was Arsenal who struck again on the hour when Giroud made it 3-0. Ramsey played the ball into the feet of the French striker who, surrounded by three City players, still managed to find the net with a shot from 22 yards which looped over the head of keeper Caballero.
With victory secured, the last half hour was far more pedestrian as Arsenal knew they had won and City had conceded there was no way back into the match, though at the death defender Dedryck Boyata glanced a header agonisingly wide as they almost got on to the scoresheet.