Arsenal and Manchester City completed their pre-season preparations with a friendly match in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday. The two sides played each other at the end of the 2012 pre-season as well, with City coming out on top with the score of 2-0 in China. This year’s match finished differently, with Arsenal racking up a 3-1 win over Manchester City. Arsenal lined up a familiar side to last season, with no new signings on display. As for Manchester City, they had new signings Negredo and Fernandinho start the match, with Jesus Navas on the bench.
With a large contingent of “Finnish Gooners” in the crowd, the North London side responded well to its fans. A tidy chip from Theo Walcott put Arsenal on their way to a victory early on, while Szczesny denied Dzeko from getting an equalizer with an impressive save after the striker worked some space inside the area. In the second half, Aaron Ramsey rounded the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 for Arsenal, before Giroud added a third soon after, impressively lobbing Joe Hart after a cross-field ball from Walcott.
It was Giroud’s eighth goal for Arsenal in this pre-season, great form that he and Arsenal fans will hope continues into the 2013-14 campaign. Arsenal almost got a fourth through Giroud again, but it was ruled rightly offside. New Manchester City signing Alvaro Negredo responded for his side after showing great strength to fend off Lauren Koscielny and knock the ball past Szczesny, but it proved to be too little, too late. In conclusion, it was a comfortable victory for Arsenal, although both teams have much to improve on before the start of the season. After the match, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke about the game:
“It was a game of good intensity with two teams who were really putting all the effort in. We had a good tactical discipline. I’m pleased with many aspects of our game, even if there are some points to work on. Overall it’s positive tactically and attitude-wise. We scored goals, created chances and were always highly focused. That’s good.”
So what does this result mean for the two Premier League rivals? Not much, unfortunately; like most pre-season matches, the most important factors are match fitness and performance rather than the result. It was certainly a good test for both sides to play Champions League quality opposition before the season begins. Although Arsenal certainly showed their attacking qualities by scoring three goals against the former Premier League champions, Manchester City also carved out a lot of openings that they weren’t quite able to capitalise.
Despite a lot of new faces in the City line-up, the players worked well together, playing with a lot of fluency and flair. However, what may concern new Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is the lack of defensive organisation, conceding three goals - nine goals in total this pre-season - that may have been avoided. Overall, it was a decent performance from Manchester City, giving the club a lot of positives to take in preparation for their match at home to Newcastle United on Monday.
Arsenal had a very pleasing performance - from Aaron Ramsey in particular - and a good result amid the transfer frustration the fans have endured so far this summer. Another impressive performance from the Welshman capped off a very successful pre-season with a nice goal. After a difficult campaign last year, Ramsey ended the season brightly and will look to continue his good form into the new season. He could play a key role in the Arsenal midfield alongside Jack Wilshere.
A good day for Arsenal, but will this result have an impact on whether Arsenal sign anybody or not? In my opinion, no. Some fans were concerned that a positive result for the Gunners like this may convince Wenger that new signings may not be needed. However, because of the considerable number of players that have left Arsenal this summer, it is almost certain that Arsenal will sign players before the window shuts at the end of August. With the club working hard in order to sign players such as Suarez and Gustavo, Arsenal’s intentions are still clear. Arsenal’s next match is against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
In conclusion, both sides will be pleased with how their pre-seasons have gone, with this match further suggesting that they will be again challenging for silverware in 2014. The new signings at Manchester City look to have gelled into the side well as they look to reclaim their Premier League crown from arch-rivals Manchester United. As for Arsenal, they played with togetherness and understanding - a result of the experiences they faced last season - although of course there is still room for improvement.
Written by Alex Marson