Manchester City 0 Arsenal 3 - Community Shield
Friendly or no friendly that result and first half performance in particular was just what the doctor ordered. The performance against Monaco must have been buzzing in Arsene's head. It's unusual for Arsene to be so vocal in his criticisms, especially for a friendly match. One can only imagine that some serious work has gone on behind the scenes because we looked in much better shape.
There was a lot of talk about which players were missing for Manchester City yesterday but it's worth pointing out that Manchester City spent roughly £184m on *transfer fees for the starting 11 that they put out while the Arsenal 11 cost £107m so I think City should be the last team that should be crying about missing players.
There were a number of interesting observations watching that game. Firstly it looks like Arsene is ditching the low defensive block, park the bus whatever you want to call it. If the Community Shield is anything to go by then we will see a team playing on the front foot, pressing opponents high in their half. Perhaps the signing of Alexis means that Arsenal are now able to press quicker from the front. It is already very much part of his game so he won't have to do anything he isn't used to. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both very good at pressing opponents into errors.
Arsene seems to have tweaked the team into a 4-1-4-1 shape rather than the 4-2-3-1 which again would explain the higher press. It would also benefit the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere (in Özil absence at least)
The Arsenal midfield stole the show in that first half and we were simply too good for the Champions. Santi Cazorla from the left cutting inside was back to his hip swiveling best and he took his goal superbly. Jinking from his right onto his left and firing a low shot into the corner to put us 1-0 up.
When was the last time you saw Jack Wilshere looking as clean and tidy as that? It was still only a friendly so we need to see him in the Premier League but he looked very sharp and fit. Is it even worth talking about Aaron Ramsey? nothing new really, just another top quality display from a top quality player. His goal for me was the highlight of the day. Yaya Sanogo's pass to him was slightly behind him but Ramsey with a player in front of him scooped the ball over the defenders foot to make room for the shot across the keeper and into the net. His conversion rate must be through the roof because the FA Cup final aside, I cannot remember many games where Ramsey has missed a host of chances before finally scoring one. It seems like he tucks away his first chances these days.
I loved the teams aggression when we didn't have the ball and we looked very good when we did have it.
Alexis looks to be improving although he is giving the ball away at times but it feels like games will correct that. As I've mentioned before I love how Alexis can essentially be two players.
@LennyPetsPuppys on Twitter summed him up the best.
Whether he is cutting teams open with his passes or latching onto passes from others, he looks to have the tools that will really benefit this team. In his first two games he has come inside and played though both Sanogo and Giroud in the right channel. It's gonna get messy when Theo Walcott is back and firing.
Giroud came on at half time and thumped a long ranger into the net, not quite sure what the City keeper was doing but we'll take it. I was hoping that the Ox would impress in the second half but the game had changed by that point. We had dropped off and City were trying to get back into the game so we spent a lot of time defending in the second half.
Calum Chambers impressed again but was also caught out a few times by the City forwards, he will need to hit the ground running as reports suggest that Laurent Koscielny who was withdrawn at half time maybe suffering with an injury of sorts. I hope that wouldn't mean Nacho Monreal at centre back. Maybe Arsene will step up the search for a new centre back/defensive midfielder.
I liked what I saw from the team today and it's even more exciting when you add the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Per Mertesacker to that team.
Crystal Palace will be a very different proposition. Pulis' Stoke teams have been pretty crap at our home stadium but I get the feeling that Palace will be different but as Arsene always says, if we play the game we want to play then what Palace do will be almost irrelevant.
Whatever we were doing on the training ground from Monaco to Man City, let's do some more of that eh?
* Transfer fees taken from http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk