KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY —- Arsenal collected a second trophy in three months as goals from Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud saw them enjoy a commanding 3-0 defeat of unimpressive Manchester City in the season’s curtain-raiser of the FA Community Shield.
Those goals provided the FA Cup holders’ fans with plenty to cheer in addition to the manner of an aggressive and determined performance from the Gunners who were almost always quicker to both the ball and the tackle.
Manager Arsene Wenger was pleased with the win, the performance and putting one over on Arsenal’s Premier title rivals. He also confirmed Mikel Arteta as club captain in succession to Barcelona-bound Thomas Vermaelen; a replacement central defender is being sought before transfer deadline day.
City’s Manuel Pellegrini was disappointed with the defending of a largely second-choice defence in the first half and identified that his team were behind Arsenal in terms of fitness.
Originally called the Charity Shield, the historic contest was launched in 1908 to raise money for worthy causes. Currently that means £500,000 shared out among 130 charities chosen by the Football Association and the league clubs.
Manchester United remain record winners with 20 (four shared) followed by Liverpool (15, five shared). Arsenal (12, one shared) with Manchester City (four) down among the juniors.
Suggestions that the fixture had lost some resonance for the major clubs after their pre-season peregrinations to exotic corners of the world were dismissed by both managers Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger. Each insisted: “It’s a domestic trophy. That’s important.”
Even though both teams were weakened by the absentees of various World Cup players the occasion was still viewed by both as a significant opportunity to launch the new campaign in winning style and with a psychological edge over one of their main Premier title rivals.
City were without eight senior players in World Cup men Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany as well as new signings Sagna and Frank Lampard.
Arsenal omitted Maracana winners Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski. None will resume full training until tomorrow when they will meet up with Arsenal’s new Germany signing in fitness coach Shad Forsythe from Joachim Low’s World Cup-winning staff.
The FA Cup holders also began with an unusual 4-1-4-1 formation with captain Mikel Arteta as defensive anchor behind a four-man midfield which included new Chilean arrival Alexis Sanchez wide on the right. The last time the ex-Barcelona man had played at Wembley he both scored both goals to inspire a friendly match victory for La Roja last November.
Arsenal were the more aggressive in the early exchanges and took a deserved lead in the 21st minute. Centre-forward Yaya Sanogo blundered in from the right, the dangerous Jack Wilshere tucked the ball into the penalty box for Santi Cazorla to shoot low past the left hand of Willy Caballero in City’s goal.
New keeper’s chance
Caballero was making his debut for City to gain early experience of English football with England’s Joe Hart left on the substitutes’ bench.
Sanogo pulled one shot wide of City’s goal before the champions stepped up their game and forced the free kick which saw referee Michael Oliver become the first referee to use vanishing spray in the English game. City, however, made a mess of an over-elaborate routine and the opportunity was lost.
Arsenal responded by extending their lead on the counter-attack. Again Sanogo forced his way through two tackles and slipped the ball wide for Aaron Ramsey – who had scored the FA Cup-winning goal – to beat Caballero.
City improved after bringing on David Silva at half-time for the ineffective Samir Nasri. Wojciech Szczesny was surprised first when Stevan Jovetic headed against a post but then dived right to save well from the striker.
Pellegrini further replaced the anonymous Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure with James Milner and new Argentinian Bruno Zuculini but Arsenal capitalised on their temporary confusion to extend their lead with a 25m drive from Olivier Giroud via a deflection off Matija Nastasic.
Arsenal: Szczesny – Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny (Monreal 46), Gibbs – Arteta – Sanchez (Oxlade-Chamberlain 46), Ramsey (Campbell 85), Wilshere (Flamini 68), Cazorla (Rosicky 68) – Sanogo (46. Giroud).
Manchester City: Caballero – Clichy, Boyata, Nastasic, Kolarov (76. Richards) – Navas (Sinclair 85), Toure (58. Zuculini), Fernando, Nasri (46. Silva)- Jovetic, Dzeko (58. Milner).
Ref: Oliver . Attendance: 71,523.