This summer hasn’t brought too much optimism to our ranks. We haven’t signed a single top-drawer player despite the fact we are just one week away from the Premiership kick-off and defensive flaws were noticed against serious opponents such as Napoli and Galatasaray. Some of us were afraid that those flaws would be exposed by Manchester City in today’s match as well. City – just like it has been the case since they got themselves rich sugar-daddies from United Arab Emirates – haven’t hesitated in the transfer market so far and have signed four players already: Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetić and Alvaro Negredo.
The last match of pre-season took place in Helsinki. Arsene Wenger decided to start the game with Lukas Podolski at center forward while Jack Wilshere started in the hole. Sebastien Perez, who is on trial with Arsenal, got a place on the bench. City were without Aguero.
Manchester City did have a better start than Arsenal. Arteta was pick-pocketed by Zabaleta near the corner-flag. The Argentinian sent a low cross for Negredo who didn’t respond with a proper finish. The punishment came very quickly.
Ramsey made a run through the middle and sent a wonderful through ball to Walcott who used Clichy’s presence on the pitch to pick the ball and clipped it over Hart to give Arsenal a lead.
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In the next ten minutes Arsenal had to withstand very heavy pressure from Manchester City, but the Citizens failed to find the equalizer through Milner and Džeko respectively. Negredo was next in line but his shot was successfully stopped by Koscielny. Sagna responded with a left-footed shot that hit the outside of the post. Despite chances, neither side managed to change the score until the break.
Arsene Wenger left Szczesny, Wilshere and Podolski on the bench and replaced them with Fabianski, Cazorla and Giroud respectively. Giroud – alongside Walcott and Ramsey – was part of the triangle that created the second goal of the game. This time, it was Walcott who made a decisive pass that Giroud let through for the on-going Ramsey. The Welshman rounded Hart and easily finished the move to double Arsenal’s lead. Just three minutes later, Arsenal sealed victory. Again, Walcott was the architect with an excellent long ball for Giroud, but the Frenchman also deserved a lot of credit for his first touch that avoided Kompany’s tackle. He followed up with a clinical finish in which he clipped the ball over Hart. It was a promising goal as Giroud hasn’t scored too many goals against top English sides since joining Arsenal from Montpellier.
Walcott and Giroud linked up yet again, which also ended with the ball in the back of the net, but it was correctly ruled out for offside. Wenger sent Jenkinson on the field and the English international received cheers as he had played for the Finnish youth international teams before he opted for England at senior level.
On the other side, The Citizens found their consolation goal. After receiving a through ball, Negredo fought off the Koscielny’s challenge and then made a clinical left-footed finish. The Spaniard might be a real danger for all opponents in the Premiership.
It was a tough match in which we didn’t exactly dominate but somehow we pulled an impressive victory over the runners-up from last season. Whilst we should keep that result as an injection of self-confidence, it should be said that our team still needs more determination and defensive solidity as we were carved open in too many situations.
Luiz Gustavo, a defensive midfielder from Bayern, might be a solution for our problem in the midfield that has existed since Flamini and Gilberto Silva both left the club in 2008. Sebastien Perez has his qualities, as he has shown already, but Gustavo would be a real deal.
There are also problems with Podolski’s fitness that have followed the German striker for some time. It will be a long season for Arsenal and Giroud can’t play every game in the starting line-up so signing a new striker should be one of the priorities for Wenger and his negotiating team.
Next Saturday, Arsenal will host Aston Villa and eighth attempt to break trophy-drought may begin.
on the win…
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.
on a confidence boost…
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 or 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.
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.
on if Wilshere will link up with England…
on the support of the fans in Finland…
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.
on if the team will return to Finland…
I would love to. 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.
on if he’s happy with the strikers he’s got…
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.
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Arteta (c) Ramsey
Extended highlights of the match can be seen on the official Arsenal Player for free here.