As you can imagine, I am still buzzing from the 3-0 demolition of Manchester City on Sunday. I accept that the Community Shield is not a prestigious piece of silverware like the Premier League or FA Cup but it’s still a trophy and a nice one to kick off the season with. Like Arsène Wenger said after the game, “people remind you that you lost a trophy when you lose it and when you win it, it’s only a Community Shield”. Once again, the man has hit the nail on the head. Everyone associated with Manchester City is saying that the match was merely the final preparation before the new season yet if Arsenal had lost, it would have shown our squad is no where near good enough and the FA Cup was a fluke.
Another excuse was that Manchester City didn’t have many first team players available but that is a load of rubbish when you assess the players that Arsenal were missing. The media spoke about how they lacked players such as Zabaleta, Kompany and Aguero but completely overlooked the Gunners’ absentees including Mertesacker, Walcott and our record signing Mesut Özil. The fact that we played the whole of the second half with two fullbacks at centre half and still kept a clean sheet is pretty impressive. City had two central defenders who have both played first team football before (Nastasic and Boyata) but both were torn apart by Sanchez and co.
So we were both not at our full strength yet the comfortable score line suggests that Arsenal have superior squad depth and Arsene Wenger is the better manager. The problem is normally injuries and time will tell whether the issues arise again this season but I am confident that the cover is there this year. This was highlighted on Sunday. No Mertesacker but Chambers slotted in well and looked comfortable. Last year, it was evident that we lacked pace when Walcott wasn’t in the team but now we have Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Campbell who can come in. Even up front, we seem to suddenly have a load of choices because most of our squad can seemingly play in a variety of positions.
I’d also like to point out the tactical naivety of Manuel Pellegrini on Sunday. He played a 4-4-2 and saw his midfield overrun by five, sometimes seven if you count Gibbs and Debuchy, players. If Wenger had done that, he would have been lambasted as a fool but the Chilean got away with it as it was only a ‘friendly’. Anyway, our acquisitions over the summer that have made the squad very strong plus the genius Frenchman in charge means I am (for the first time in ages) optimistic that we can mount a serious title challenge.
Bring on Saturday but knowing my lack, Crystal Palace will burst our little bubble.
By Glen Shorey