Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger has Arsenal shaping up like his teams of old

It was an afternoon for Arsenal as they exist in Arsene Wenger's ideal world. A world in which rich oligarchs cannot buy success, one in which his club are at Wembley every season and where every pass from a red shirt is tantalisingly out of the reach of their opposition.

The Community Shield is not the most reliable indicator of a manager's likely fortunes for the season ahead – David Moyes won it with Manchester United last season – but there is nothing like a victory to fire the optimism.

So many pre-seasons under Wenger in the recent past have been a story of demoralising departures and worryingly late arrivals in the August transfer window.

This time, he was able to field three of his four new signings in the starting XI and there was a notable freshness about his players almost three months on from their FA Cup triumph.

From the moment Santi Cazorla turned inside former Arsenal full-back Gael Clichy, played out of position at right-back, and scored the first goal on 21 minutes, there was precious little doubt that this was going to be Arsenal's day.

As for City, the best that could be said was that, at two goals down, they improved in the second half. Many of the big-hitters – Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard –were watching from the stands.

Manuel Pellegrini also selected his new Argentine goalkeeper Willy Caballero ahead of Joe Hart. On reflection it will have been one that the Englishman might have been glad to have missed out on.

Pellegrini's refusal, post-match, to make any assurances about the England goalkeeper's place in the team will have been more of a worry.

In the first half in particular, City allowed themselves to be passed around by Arsenal who enjoyed some sequences of possession that saw them work the ball all the way from the back to the front and, sometimes, back again.

And when City did manage to get forward they were hit hard on the counter-attack with Alexis Sanchez leading the way, as he did in creating the second goal for Aaron Ramsey shortly before half-time.

Arsenal did all this without a centre-forward who was anything like as ruthless as he might have been. Yaya Sanogo played a key part in both first half goals but failed to hit the target when played in by Cazorla on 25 minutes.

Last season, Arsenal struggled badly against the three other teams that made up the top four. This time around there are no guarantees but they have begun by winning against the league champions and doing so with the zest that typified their best years under Wenger.

Playing on the right-side Sanchez was an excellent outlet. Jack Wilshere had a fine game in midfield. Ramsey was superb, his first delightful first touch taking the ball away from Matija Nastasic to clear the space for a shot for his goal.

Wenger picked his young Southampton signing Calum Chambers in the centre of defence and the 19-year-old did not disappoint. The only note of caution was in the first half when he was beaten for pace down the goalline by Edin Dzeko, not a striker noted as especially quick.

Afterwards, Wenger said he felt that the teenager had been "outstanding".

Samir Nasri was loudly disapproved of by the Arsenal support every time he had the ball, which was not that often before he was substituted at half-time to give David Silva a half.

There were 11 substitutions between the two sides with even City's lost soul Scott Sinclair given a late run-out.

The pick of Arsenal's goals was Olivier Giroud's just after the hour. On as a half-time substitute for Sanogo, he whipped a left foot shot over Caballero from the right channel that left the Argentine flat on his back.

It was such a good goal that it prompted the dozy sponsor's guests to vote Giroud man of the match.

As for City, Stefan Jovetic was denied brilliantly by Wojciech Szczesny just minutes after the Montenegrin had hit the post with a header. Jovetic was one of the few who showed the kind of bite that City will require if they are to retain their title.

For the watching Roy Hodgson there were only worries when he looked at the City team, not least what the future might hold for Hart. A non-laying first choice England goalkeeper is the last thing the national team needs, especially given Caballero was by no means impressive.

Nevertheless, these are early days, but for Arsenal this is much more preferable to previous summers.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph