Five things I learned from Arsenal’s performance in the FA Community Shield by SE
Manchester City and Arsenal contested this year’s FA Community Shield, and it was the North Londoners who annihilated the champions of England to win 3-0 and kick start their 2014/15 campaign on a resounding note.
Arsenal were good value for the margin of win over Man City, as they played with a lot more verve and purpose than the Premier League champions. Albeit the new recruits might not have exhibited their best, yesterday, the seasoned pros in Ramsey, Szczesny and Cazorla put out a top-drawer performance to ensure Arsenal clinched the first available silverware of the season.
And, here are the five things I learned from a solid Arsenal Performance:
Arsenal’s squad looks well drilled and hungry to continue collecting silverware
Albeit Arsenal, too, started off slowly, they shifted gears quickly to catch Man City napping on many an occasion prior to that first Cazorla goal in the 21st minute of the match. The goal scorer himself, playing on the Left-Wing, was the chief architect in Arsenal finding that cutting edge, which their opposition, on the day, couldn’t come to terms with.
In addition to Cazorla, Ramsey, Gibbs at Left-Back, the new boy Chambers and Sanogo, just had that aura about themselves to get out there and mean business.
And, it’s this hunger and motivation that, in my opinion, will prove indispensable to Arsenal’s campaign, if it proves to be a silver lining one come the end of the season. It’s now two trophies in just over two months for Arsenal and Wenger, and going by that performance last night, there may be more silverware to come.
4-2-3-1 goes into the trashcan, out comes the dynamic 4-3-3
Once Sanchez came into the equation, there was always this conundrum whether Wenger would dump 4-2-3-1 and adopt 4-3-3, which is very much possible, with the squad he has at his disposal.
Arsenal’s 4-3-3 had a single Midfield pivot in Arteta, with Wilshere and Ramsey playing in an advanced role in the middle of the park. It was a carbon copy of Barcelona’s system, which sees Busquets playing in the deeper midfield role, and Xavi and Iniesta playing in an advanced position.
Sanchez played at Right-Wing, with Cazorla on the left and Sanogo playing as the Center-Forward. And, with Manchester City playing two strikers up top, Arsenal having that extra body in the midfield had a telling impact on the game from the word go.
Ramsey, at times, dropped deep to link up the play, which meant that Arteta didn’t have the burden of having to sit in front of the back four, and still render that extra bit, going forward. Wilshere was given the free role, but he went missing for large periods, and it was Cazorla, Ramsey and the two Arsenal full backs, who were pulling the strings for the Gunners.
But mind you, once Ozil comes into the equation, he won’t get to play that No.10 role, and would have to play wide, as he did for Germany at the World Cup.
Cazorla’s performance will give Wenger Team selection headaches
The Spaniard minces nothing, in terms of effort, once he steps on to the pitch, and it was no different yesterday. Playing on the Left-wing, Cazorla dictated Arsenal’s tempo like an orchestrator, constantly drifting inward of Clichy, playing at Right-Back, and making a nuisance of himself to that Man City’s back four. He was, by far, the best Arsenal player of the evening.
And, just on yesterday’s performance alone, Cazorla is piling the pressure on Wenger to render him more starting berths in the coming season. Now, where are those wagging mouths that fuelled rumors of Cazorla leaving Arsenal in search of more first team Football? If he keeps performing like he did last evening, Wilshere could be the one making way for the Spaniard, with Ozil playing on the Left-Wing.
Despite keeping a clean sheet, Arsenal’s defence looked wobbly at times
Yesterday’s game was always going to be a tussle between two defences, which had question marks over their ability to keep the opposing strikers from getting past them. And, pertinently, Man City’s defence was shambolic; Arsenal’s was par for the course.
Chambers didn’t do too badly, but there were a couple of moments in the first half when he looked nervy on the ball, and had Szczesny’s heart pumping abnormally, with his back passes.
Gibbs was done for pace by Navas time and again, and the Englishman’s sluggishness didn’t cost Arsenal, thankfully.
Koscielny didn’t have much to do, as Man City attacked Arsenal’s right-hand-side for much of the first half, and it was always Debuchy and Chambers in question. Koscielny played just 45 minutes of the match, before he was replaced by Monreal.
Mathieu Debuchy, too, is another full back who gives so much offensively, but defensively he can be a liability, going by yesterday’s performance. Kolarov turned him inside out repeatedly, and Arsenal’s defence was given many a reprieve by a Man City side that wasn’t overly intent on winning the game.
Arsenal can build on this solid performance
As I said at the very beginning: Arsenal, through their performance yesterday, have sent out a raucous warning to their Premier League rivals. You can call it the curtain-raiser, or another pre-season game, which has very little riding on it, but when you count the attitude of both teams, Arsenal were miles ahead of Man City.
It’s that intent and attitude that will make Arsenal a much bigger threat to their Premier League rivals than last season. New signings could make a difference, but the aura Arsenal exuded was simply reassuring.
Wenger’s men will have much tougher challenges to overcome this season, but if they can play with the same hunger, verve and panache, Arsenal can prove to be World beaters.