When you think about it, playing City one week before the start of the season was a very smart move, some very clever scheduling must have gone on behind the scenes, clearly designed to give us a stern test before the real football starts next week against Villa.
If this was indeed the intention and indeed meant as a test then Arsene Wenger’s men passed it with flying colours.
But I must admit I didn’t expect it. City started as positively as you would expect. A collection of players brought for around five hundred million seemed to be effortlessly moving the ball around us. I feared the worst and started wondering how I would write a report, if required, and found myself thinking that if we lose I might have to trot out the chestnut that you can’t hide the difference in quality that five hundred million buys you.
But I was wrong, there was no need, this was one of those precious moments when the hearts of Wengerites, of which I am one, soar.
We stuffed City.
Arsene’s team, put together with a fraction of the opposition’s budget, showed a far greater level of skill and clinical finishing. In short, we were treated to some pre-season Wengerball of the highest calibre.
Ramsey was for me our Man of the Match a cross between S Gerrard’s ability to move powerfully throughout the midfield, R Keane’s determination and C Fabregas’s finesse.
Because — that pass — to set up Walcott for the first goal was class; with slide rule precision it carved the City defence open, finished off with some aplomb by the man who had a hand in every goal today. Well, done Theo, you really have been giving doubters like me a good kicking recently.
I was a bit surprised to see Podolski starting at number 9; the first thought that ran through my head was this is in response to John Henry’s blunder bus of a statement that Liverpool would not be selling Suarez; it seemed like Arsene Wenger’s more subtle way of saying, we have options and our negotiating position is better than you think.
Excluding Podolski, I got the impression that both teams started with their strongest possible line up, but, where City were struggling to find a new format, Arsenal simply picked up from where they effectively left off last season.
There weren’t too many other chances for the good guys in the first half that I can recall but I do want you to share the pleasure in remembering Bacary Sagna’s left foot pile driver that hit the post – damn, did that man play well.
Second half started, changes were made and I thought here we go; we are all well aware how Arsenal are capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory but once again – none of it.
We got stronger and stronger, scoring a second goal and then a third. The second was a deftly weighted pass from Theo who I think Cazorla stepped over allowing the ball to roll to Ramsey who, in turn, rounded the goal keeper before slotting home. The ease with which Ramsey rounded England’s number one was Messiesque and made all the better by the look of embarrassment on Joe Hart’s face.
When there is goal scoring going on Oliie does not seem to be the kind of striker who likes to be left out. A pass from Walcott some thirty yards made fools of the City defence allowing Giroud to control and lob over the oncoming and even more foolish looking Joe Hart.
The game as a competition was over, Arsene had the luxury of bringing on more young hopefuls and Carl Jenkinson’s family and army of friends had a chance to shout his name.
City, of course, did score; Koscielny got bundled off the ball a bit too easily but I am not convinced that would have happened in any circumstance other than being three up.
So, a great warm up, a great result, a great boost for the collective confidence and all is looking well for next week.
Have a great Sunday.
Written by LB