The Community Shield went to Arsenal after the FA Cup winners comfortably beat English champions Manchester City 3-0 at Wembley. Goals from Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud secured the win against a rusty looking City.
Neither side was at full strength due to their players’ World Cup exploits. Arsenal were without German World Cup winning trio Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Özil, as well as Theo Walcott.
Meanwhile, City manager Manuel Pellegrini decided not to pick captain Vincent Kompany, former Gunner Bacary Sagna or loanee Frank Lampard in the squad. They were also without Argentine trio Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis after their return from their summer break. All three played a part in the World Cup final as Argentina lost to Germany, and they were watching on today as their side lost a different showpiece event.
Arsenal last won the Community Shield in 2004, having won the league without losing a game that season. That team included the likes of Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, but it was Aaron Ramsey & co. that ran the show in Arsenal’s win this time around.
New signing Alexis Sanchez was in the starting line up alongside fellow arrivals Matthieu Debuchy and Callum Chambers. Sanchez showed his class on several occasions, linking up with Cazorla, Ramsey and Yaya Sanogo, who had been picked ahead of Giroud because the Frenchman apparently lacked match fitness.
City toiled and had chances through Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri, but it was Arsenal that opened the scoring after 21 minutes, with Cazorla slotting home from range. Callum Chambers had shown maturity beyond his 19 years throughout the game, but at the other end Dedryck Boyata committed himself to a challenge on Jack Wilshere, and the ball broke to Cazorla. The Spaniard kicked off his season with a 20-yard left footed strike into the far corner.
City piled forward looking for an equaliser but it was 2-0 just a couple of minutes before half time after an impressive counterattack by the Gunners. Sanchez found Sanogo and the Frenchman held the ball up before feeding Ramsey. The Welshman showed quick feet to skip past a defender and smash the ball home past Willy Caballero – the goalkeeper signed from Malaga that started ahead of England number one Joe Hart.
Arsenal wrapped up the win with an hour played, despite looking somewhat vulnerable at the start of the second half. David Silva replaced former Arsenal man Samir Nasri at half time and the Premier League winners twice came close through Jovetic, who was denied by the post and then Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesney.
But Giroud snufed out any chance of a comeback with a stunning dipping strike from 25 yards. It was the last meaningful action of a game that represented a signal of intent from Arsenal.
The Gunners won their first trophy in nine years last season – beating Hull City in the FA Cup final. They have strengthened during the summer and Arsene Wenger is supposedly still looking to improve his squad.
Should the North Londoners keep all of their players fit, they will surely have a chance of challenging for the title this season. If they can consistently perform the way they did at Wembley against City, they will be a force to be reckoned with at times.
City, however, will need to improve very quickly and sharpen up if they are to have any real hope of retaining their league title. One trophy down, and it is Arsenal’s. Next time we see these two sides in action, it will be in the Premier League. Both have a chance of winning the title and it promises to be an exciting season once again.