Jan Molby

Wembley clash looks more significant for Arsenal

Jan Molby

View gallery


I think I played in six Charity Shields (as it used to be called) with Liverpool and back then it was treated more seriously than it is today.

It used to be considered a recognised trophy to win. It was not viewed as a pre-season friendly but rather the first game of the season and a chance to get back to winning ways.

However, on Sunday, while I think Manchester City and Arsenal will both field strong teams and look to win the match, I also expect both sides to use the maximum amount of substitutes allowed.

The game to me feels a little bit more important for Arsenal. It was curious to see how they performed at the Emirates Cup last week.

What looked like makeshift side destroyed Benfica in the first game but then, with a much stronger outfit on the park, they looked very lethargic and cumbersome against Monaco.

The match at Wembley provides a fresh test as it sees Arsenal face up against that hurdle that really blocked them last season – namely how they get on against the bigger teams?

[Arsenal v Manchester City preview: Can Gunners exploit weakened champions?]

If City lose the match they can easily take it on the chin and walk away but if Arsenal suffer a 2-0 or 3-0 setback – you will be hearing all the same question marks about their inability to do it at the very highest level.

There is a lot of positivity around Arsenal this campaign, you saw the importance of winning the FA Cup, you saw the importance of signing Alexis Sanchez, these things lift a football club. If they could add a high profile victory against City it would definitely have a positive impact on everyone at the club.

I've said in countless times in the past though but I would still like them to sign a defensive midfielder before I could label them proper title contenders.

In Sami Khedira and William Carvalho they are at least being linked with the right types of player this summer and you are just willing them on to go ahead and make that type of a signing.

I believe they are unhappy about the personal demands of Khedira but sometimes when you need that final piece of the jigsaw for your team, you have to close your eyes and pay whatever it costs.

I've discussed this before, but against the better sides, Arsenal have not looked organised and defensively secure and that could again be the situation this year.

They look to have their strongest squad for eight seasons with likes of Ramsey, Sanchez and, when he returns from injury, Walcott offering plenty of dynamic options going forward but they still look that one player short of being a contender.

Moving on to City and they have looked very good in pre-season. The attacking fluidity has been retained and they are creating plenty of chances. They have looked vulnerable at the back but you know they are capable of sorting that out, so they look a little further along in pre-season than Arsenal.

Of all the top teams, City are the one side that have a tendency to be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to hitting their stride so a good performance on Sunday would be a positive sign before the proper stuff begins next week.

One player who will not be playing is Frank Lampard who moved to City this week on loan. I must admit I was a little bit surprised by the transfer. I'm not sure they need another midfielder but I guess it makes sense, they will find plenty of games to use him in. He will be a reliable player who will do a job when asked to; he's a very proud professional who looks after himself.

One man who people will be looking closely at on Sunday is Stevan Jovetic who has impressed in pre-season. I like him as a player even if I do think he is a little flimsy – you don't always know what you are going to get from him.

View gallery


He does though have an ability to drop into those areas that defenders hate and he's started well this summer. You can't blame City for looking at him and thinking that he owes them a little bit because last season was a complete write-off.

I don't think he will be strong enough to get into their strongest XI when everyone is fit but he will make an impact this season especially in the early part of the season with Negredo injured and concerns over Aguero. Jovetic can fill in and help them in the short-to-medium term but I do feel getting Aguero back and firing as soon as possible could be the key to City's season.

[Stevan Jovetic could be brilliant this season – and Arsenal need to watch out]

So looking ahead to Sunday's game, I forecast a tight match but one that won't tell us too much about the season ahead. It will be a good game for an hour before running out of steam but I'd be surprised if there was more than the odd goal in it with City being slight favourites for me.

View comments (12)