We're back with our quickfire analysis of the big events in football, to the power of seven.
Here are some particular points Eurosport.com's Liam Happe (Twitter: @liamhappe) picked up on during Arsenal's commanding start to the season in the Community Shield, as the FA Cup holders blasted Premier League champions Manchester City 3-0 at Wembley.
Silverware has unchained Arsene Wenger: There isn’t going to be any attempts to compare the Arsenal squad of 2014 to 1998, 2002 or 2004 vintage. It’s good, but not THAT good. However, despite what some Gooners will argue regarding signing big name players, that wasn’t the problem that led to nine years without a trophy. Mesut Ozil wasn’t particularly responsible for the FA Cup win in May, and Alexis Sanchez was far from the man of the match today. However, it looked as though a very heavy rain cloud shifted away from the Emirates after beating Hull 3-2. This current Gunners crop has begun the season with a commanding, stylish and effective performance reminiscent of those legendary sides Wenger oversaw back in the day. It’s a long way until we can even think of putting this Arsenal side up into that elite category, but this performance was a good sign in that direction.
No excuses, Man City were poor: No Sergio Aguero, no Vincent Kompany, no Joe Hart (yeah, we can’t believe we’re including him, either)… no problem, right? Well, not quite. City were not at full strength, but neither were their 3-0 conquerors. The Community Shield may not be a major trophy, but it is a real football contest. There is just one week to go before the really important ones begin - you can't write off how abject City were just because it was ‘technically a friendly’.
There’s nowhere in North London for Samir Nasri to hide: At 2:40pm British time, when Manchester City winger Nasri’s name was called during the first round of team line-up announcements, fans of his former club Arsenal lit up Wembley with a vicious chorus of boos - understandable, given the nature of his departure. City fans attempted to amp up their cheers for his name-call, but they failed to drown out the Gunners, miserably. Worse, Manuel Pellegrini stuck to his plan to have the Frenchman take first-half corners at the Arsenal side of the pitch. None of the deliveries were any good amid even more rabid booing and the poor, despondent sod was hauled off at half-time.
Santi Cazorla loves Wembley Stadium: Remember back in May, when a certain free-kick by a certain Spaniard helped drag an Arsenal side 2-0 down to Hull in the FA Cup final from the despair of yet another trophyless season and on their way to finally stopping the rot? His performance surely helped keep Arsene Wenger in a job, and his performance against Man City in the season opener was equally crucial. A key cog in the attacking flow of the Gunners which resembled their pomp of a decade or so ago, Cazorla could be very instrumental if Arsenal are to continue their rekindled romance with silverware this season. A lot of the spotlight will be on Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and that should help the ex-Malaga star, too. And to think, there remain rumours he will leave the club before the transfer window closes!
Aaron Ramsey will only get better: The Welsh midfielder had a sparkling campaign for Arsenal last season. Think it was a one-off? Think again. There’s half a chance Ramsey is the reason Arsene Wenger wasn’t so keen on spending big to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the club. His deft chipped touch to create space to score Arsenal’s second and his wonderful volleyed back-heel square pass on 56 minutes were the highlights of a delightful midfield performance from the young maestro. Expect much more of the same throughout 2014/15 – IF he stays fit.
Kieran Gibbs: England’s next first-choice left-back? Before we continue the theme of swooning over individual Arsenal player performances, a quick aside about one of the underrated entertainment highlights of any footballing trip to Wembley: the stadium sponsors’ announcement of their man-of-the-match. Renowned for their baffling picks, EE this time gave it to half-time substitute Olivier Giroud. Yeah, the French striker who looked average outside of scoring a fantastic third for the Londoners. It was as laughable as it was a slight to Gibbs, who was an absolute menace coming forward in a fruitful first half for Wenger’s troops whilst ensuring not to leave gaps at the back where inexperienced centre-backs such as Calum Chambers and half-time sub Nacho Monreal could have been prone on the break. Luke Shaw and Leighton Baines will need to keep on their toes on the road to Euro 2016, at this rate.
City will need more cutting edge to retain the league title: Man City had their fair share of good chances to score at Wembley, no doubt. The scoreline could easily have been something like 5-3 Arsenal. And yet, when they spent a short period of time last season falling away from the top of the table only for Liverpool and Chelsea to let them right back up on top of the mountain, the problem was pretty similar. A side with such firepower as they should be burying more of their chances, and with the title race for this season promising to be even more of a rollercoaster ride than last term, Manuel Pellegrini cannot afford to oversee as many missed chances this season as last.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester City
- Arsene Wenger
- Alexis Sanchez
- Mesut Ozil