Arsenal ended their pre-season fixture list in style with a 3-1 win over Manchester City thanks to some sublime work from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey most notably.
While Gooners will be chuffed, a quick look down the squad list is worrying and certainly will have to force Wenger into the market and soon. The Frenchman knows his squad is thin for the season but has the bones for a competitive side after his hard working team dissected an experienced City back line.
Arsene Wenger shared his thoughts on the win in his post-match press conference:
It was a game of good intensity with two teams who were really putting all the effort on. We had a good tactical discipline. I’m pleased with many aspects of our game, even if there are some points to work on. Overall it’s positive tactically [and] attitude-wise. We scored goals, created chances and were always highly focused. That’s good.
Certainly it will lift our confidence. You have always to find a good balance between confidence and urgency level and I think we will because this team has a good attitude. We lose now the players who go on international duty and come back only on Thursday so it will be very short from Thursday to Saturday to prepare for our first game. We have big games in front of us because we play of course Aston Villa at home and then in the Champions League so it’s important that we don’t lose players now.
Jack Wilshere once again looked lively which bodes well for the Gunners ahead of the new season. The Englishman is instrumental to Arsenal’s engine room and is forming a flourishing partnership with Ramsey in the middle, something that they haven’t had a chance to develop in the past.
Wenger revealed he is easing Wilshere into the fold after he largely missed last season’s run-in due to an ankle injury and will partake in England’s upcoming friendly:
I decided before the game to play him only 45 minutes because I want to build him up step by step and because he will go with the national team when England plays against Scotland on Wednesday night. That as well will be a very committed game.
Wenger was full of praise for the Arsenal contingent of the local Finnish fans who provided passionate support for the traveling Gunners against a strong City side, and admits he would sign a deal to come back right away:
Look I’m quite amazed how popular we are here. It’s a very good feeling. I like to see the stands in red and white. I would like to thank all the fans who turned up today and supported our team and I’m happy that we could give them a positive feeling and that they go home happy. It’s great to see how popular our club is here.
[on Jenkinson’s reception] He has a very strong link with the country and you expect that, especially when people [have] Finnish [heritage] and love Arsenal – you expect a good reception for Jenkinson.
I would love to [return to Finland]. We enjoyed coming here and playing in such an atmosphere on such a fantastic pitch with a great support. It was a quality game. Our opponent was very good as well. I would sign to come back.
As always, Wenger was quizzed on his squad’s depth something that is worrying the fans after a whole host of senior players departing including Gervinho who was very much a part of the Gunners squad last season.
The Arsenal boss was asked if he’s happy with the strikers he’s got, and responded:
I think what is important is the strength of the squad. Today is one game. We want to play 55 games and we are maybe a bit thin squad-wise to go through a whole season.
[on pre-season as a whole] I’m an optimist. That’s why I do this job. Overall I think we finished the season well. In the last 10 games We had eight wins and two draws and we kept the squad together for the first time [for a number of years]. We didn’t lose any regular players so that makes me very positive for the new season.
We didn’t lose any good regular players that’s for sure which is positive, we are in a better position than last season but we MUST secure some top quality signings and soon. Luckily the Gunners have the ability to begin the season with a strong side with not too many injuries (touchwood) rocking the squad just yet.
It has been a super frustrating summer but at least Arsenal produced a strong outing against a solid City side. We can count our chickens after some early misses from the Manchester outfit but some excellent build up play and finishing means Arsene Wenger’s side enters next weekend’s Premier League opener full of confidence.