16 Conclusions On Arsenal 3 Man City 0

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Last Updated: 11/08/14 at 10:18 Post Comment

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* Hooray! No more having to make awkward conversation with the family! No more walking the dog! No more trying to form genuine opinions about cricket! Put the tennis racket away, you don't have to pretend anymore! Football's back!

* Okay, so the Community Shield is only a glorified friendly, but try telling that to Arsenal fans after their impressive 3-0 victory. Some of them will actually believe this means they're going to win the title. Imagine that. Others are just pleased they managed to give Samir Na$ri a good booing for 90 minutes, and the rest, well, they probably want a great deal less sarcasm in their analysis.

* It might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but here at F365 we're big fans of the Community Shield. Why? Because it gives us a chance to learn, and learning is the greatest gift to humankind after blissful ignorance.

In fact, we learned 14 things altogether on Sunday, starting with the revelation that Manchester City care as much about the Community Shield as the rest of the world does about your fantasy team. This was City's heaviest defeat in over three years - since a 3-0 loss to Liverpool in April 2011 - and boy did they look disinterested in the first half.

* Perhaps that's because of the way they lined up, with plenty of big hitters missing from a first XI that featured Dedryck Boyata, a cameo from Scott Sinclair (used to play for Swansea, former England prospect...still not getting anything?), and Gael Clichy at right-back. Micah Richards may have been handed the captain's armband when he came on in the second half, but Manuel Pellegrini will struggle to make it more obvious that he's happy for the 26-year-old to move on. After just nine Premier League starts in the past two seasons, Richards should be flattered by those persistent Liverpool rumours.

* But less of the losers, for the moment, and more about an Arsenal side who kicked off the season in the same fashion they ended last year - with silverware at Wembley.

It was an excellent performance by the Gunners, and Arsene Wenger will be pleased with his team's application against an opponent they had failed to beat in the last four contests. After dominating possession in the opening 20 minutes, Arsenal reverted to a counter-attacking approach that frequently put City on the back foot, with new signing Alexis Sanchez demonstrating his ability to break at speed. It was from one such move that Aaron Ramsey doubled the lead as Arsenal profited from a worryingly porous City back line.

* Sanchez certainly made an impression in his first 45 minutes of competitive action, providing a constant threat with his dribbling and intelligence to find pockets of space. However, Gooners will need to be patient with their shiny new £35m recruit from Barcelona, who dances a fine line between risk and reward. Sanchez's pass completion rate of just 60% - the worst of any player on the pitch including the two keepers - is indicative of his playing style, as is the statistic that he lost the ball by being dispossessed or taking a poor touch more than any other player at the World Cup.

He'll spot runs and attempt to exploit gaps a lot more than the average Premier League footballer (Tom Cleverley) but there will be times when the 25-year-old is hugely frustrating in his end product. Of course, that should improve as he learns the qualities of his new teammates or, in Yaya Sanogo's case, the troubling lack of quality.

* Sanogo is a puzzling one. Wenger is clearly a fan, starting the youngster in crucial cup matches against Liverpool, Everton and Bayern Munich last season, but we're struggling to see the same as the manager's discerning eye. Despite his four goals against Benfica in the Emirates Cup, Sanogo again looked out of place in Arsenal's attack, repeatedly running offside and failing to provide a focal point for Sanchez and Santi Cazorla to play off.

* Indeed, he was lucky not to have been spotted interfering with play on the opening goal, when Cazorla's shot flew past him and into the far corner. Had Michael Oliver noticed Sanogo standing in Willy Caballero's line of vision the goal may have been disallowed, just as Cheick Tiote's strike was against City in January. We'd call it a lucky escape, but no-one cares about the Community Shield enough to warrant that terminology.

* In the interest of balance, it should be acknowledged that Sanogo was at least good in the air and supplied the assist for the second goal, but the 21-year-old has plenty of work to do if he's to prove Wenger right in his decision not to sign another striker. Sanchez can obviously play as a forward, along with the returning Theo Walcott, but some supporters might be worried that Sanogo is the only back-up to Olivier Giroud in a traditional No.9 role. With the start of the season now just five tantalising days away, we'll soon see how Wenger intends to shuffle his pack in attack.

* A quick word on Stevan Jovetic, who put in an impressive shift after his injury woes of last season. The 24-year-old looked as fit as we've seen him in a City shirt, showing quick feet to evade the Arsenal midfield on several occasions and providing City's only real presence in the box. With Sergio Aguero still working his way back from nagging hamstring problems and Alvaro Negredo ruled out with a broken foot, Jovetic has a brilliant chance to prove his worth 12 months after arriving for a cool £22m.

* On this evidence, Fernandinho doesn't need to worry too much about losing his place to big Fernando. The summer signing from Porto retained possession well on his debut, but was caught napping for Arsenal's opener and failed to get a handle on the battle in midfield, picking up a booking for a foul on Jack Wilshere. We don't want to judge him too hastily, but if this doesn't work out we're ready to tar him with the brush marked 'Javi Garcia'.

* On Arsenal's debutants, the buccaneering Mathieu Debuchy was particularly impressive, proving that he deserved his move to the Emirates after a solid campaign for Newcastle which culminated in a starting role for France at the World Cup. As well as making more tackles than any other player, the 29-year-old (who else didn't realise he was that old?) regularly offered an option down the right flank as he got forward to support the attack. If it's a sign of things to come, then Bacary Sagna won't be missed.

* Calum Chambers was also excellent, exhibiting a composure that belied his 19 years. However, he was out-paced by Edin Dzeko at one stage in the first half; there must be a dressing-room forfeit for such inexcusable embarrassment.

* "I have two number one goalkeepers," said Pellegrini on Friday. "I am sure Willy will be very important for us but we have the best goalkeeper in England in Joe Hart."

After dropping Hart for seven Premier League matches last season, Pellegrini didn't spend much time deliberating his Willy-won't-he conundrum, choosing to leave Hart out again at the first opportunity by handing the gloves to Caballero.

It may not matter much to the England No.1, though, as his competition suffered a difficult afternoon, capped off by Giroud's deflected strike sailing over his head in the second half. It's debatable whether Caballero could have done better with any of Arsenal's goals, but the scoreline certainly won't help his cause in attempting to dislodge Hart. One thing is for sure, this should make for an interesting battle as the campaign develops.

* Although Sanchez's arrival is a huge boost for Arsenal, there is a good chance Aaron Ramsey will be the Gunners' most important player this season. The 23-year-old was outstanding against City, scoring a fine strike to offer encouragement that he can better last year's 16-goal haul.

Ramsey makes Arsenal tick in the way it was once hoped Wilshere would. While his teammate's progress has stalled - although he played well on Sunday - Ramsey took a enormous step up in 2013/14 despite missing three months through injury. The Welshman's absence was a huge blow, coinciding with the end of the Gunners' title fight and a decline in Mesut Ozil's performances, emphasising how pivotal he has become.

If Ramsey can stay fit, then Arsenal's hopes of winning the title increase significantly.

* It was a real pleasure to hear Michael Owen back on co-comms duty after three months without his voice in our lives. Ah, football, it's good to have you back.

Matt Stanger - he's on Twitter.

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