Arsenal grabbed the first silverware of the new season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the FA Community Shield but what does it really say about both of their chances over the forthcoming season. To be honest very little but try telling that to the Gunners faithful. After years of starvation, last season’s FA Cup success gave a much needed confidence boost to Arsene Wenger and potentially handed him a reprieve from the sack. Yesterdays emphatic win, that saw Ramsey, Cazorla and Grioud hit the target will further strengthen the calls for Wenger to stay. And it seems as though Wenger himself is starting to realize how close he came to unemployment. Criticized for his lack of spending in past windows, the French coach has wasted little time (or money) this summer rebuilding his squad. In comes Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, English defender Calum Chambers from Southampton, French defender Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle and Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina from Nice for a combined xmillion. And the spending is unlikely to end there with Thomas Vermelan leaving for Barcelona, a central defender is now top of the list for Wenger.
Arsenals new collection of players is already impressing. Debuchy is a known quantity after his time in the north so should add consistency and reliability to right back after Sagna’s departure for Manchester City whilst Chambers is a young talented player who shone in the Southampton team last year. David Ospina offers a selection headache for Wenger who has been searching for competition between the sticks ever since Jens Lehmann departed. But it’s the arrival of Sanchez that shows how serious Arsenal are about competing for the title this year. Dynamic, fast paced and deadly in front of goal, Sanchez is exactly the right catalysis for Giroud upfront. Often stranded and alone, the powerful French striker found opportunity stifled resulting in one too many games without a goal. Sanchez is not a direct replacement but will do the leg work and heavy lifting that Grioud needs to better himself. Arsenal chances will depend on how quickly Sanchez settles in England but based on yesterdays match, Arsenal should be in a good position come May.
City have been relatively quiet this summer much to everyone’s surprise. Bacary Sagna, Wily Caballero and Fernando have been the only notable arrivals with a few other names on the cusp of a move to the club. However few people should be shocked at the limited activity in the transfer market that City have shown given what they already have at their disposal. They have kept all the fundamental components from last year’s title winning team including Yaya Toure who looked destined to leave after a ridiculously concocted scheme by his agent around a lack of birthday gift from the clubs wealthy owners, failed to bear fruits. Strengthening an already solid team would just be wasting money and with UEFA already breathing heavily down City’s neck on the financial fair play rules, Pellegrini has chosen to pull back on the purse strings. However the players he has added offer competition to areas where none existed before. Pellegrini knew Caballero well after coaching him at Malaga and sees the Argentine as an option instead of Joe Hart. Despite the England No.1 regaining his position at the tail end of last season, he did so unconvincingly spurring Pellegrini to go after Caballero. The arrivals of Sagna (on a free) and Fernando add cover to already strong areas for City. Last season Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure were sensational as Manchester City piped Liverpool to the title. But with little faith shown in Micah Richards and Javi Garcia, it forced Toure and Zabaleta to play in more games than most others in the squad did.
City’s showing in yesterday’s game suggests that they are not quite ready for the new season and further changes are needed. But in truth City are good to go and motivation was the only factor in the defeat to Arsenal. The Community Shield has been viewed as a pointless exercise or glorified friendly that tells us very little about how the new season will pan out. Last year Manchester United under David Moyes won the shield comfortably too but then went on to have a nightmare season that has seen whole scale changes this summer with Van Gaal and several new faces arriving. Whilst no one can take the victory away from Arsenal who simply wanted it more, the result itself should hold no barring on how the season will pan out.
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