Good morning all. Before I get going with the positives of yesterdays Community Shield win,let me get the disclaimers out of the way:
- The Community Shield is no more than a glorified friendly. It is not a competitive game, appearances do not go towards games played of goals scored for a club, clubs can use 7 substitutes. It is a friendly.
- Manchester City were without 8 players, whilst Arsenal started with the side that is likely to start against Palace, bar Giroud, and only really had Walcott, Mertersacker and Ozil missing from its first XI.
- In the last 3 seasons, the winners of the Community Shield have finished the season trophyless.
- On August 10th 2013, Arsenal beat Manchester City 3-1 in a friendly. August 10th 2014, Arsenal beat Manchester 3-0 in a friendly.
Ok, thats that out of the way, so what positives can we take out of yesterday? Despite it being a glorified friendly, and we know to ignore friendly results, there are still many positives:
Alexis Sanchez was a class above anyone else on the field. He looked a threat everytime he ran forward with the ball, worked hard in defence, and was unlikely not to get a goal when put clean through by Yaya Sanogo. One of the issues with the side last year was the lack of a player who could run the ball form within our half, to the oppoennts box, especially on breaks, Sanchez did it numerous times. He will be a star.
Perhaps standing out more than Sanchez, however, was Calum Chambers. When he signed, we all thought we were signing our right back for the next decade. After a couple of Emirates Cup ties and the Community Shield, it is clear that is not the case. He will not only become our first choice centre back over the next few years, but he is also a future Arsenal captain.
Brilliant in defence, his awareness and reading of the game got us out of trouble a few times. He was, in my opinion, man of the match (How did Olivier Giroud win this?). What impressed me most was his composure. Even when under pressure, he always looked to, and succeeded, in passing the ball out of defence. To think he is just 19 is amazing. He has a big future.
Mathieu Debuchy had a mixed bag. He looked brilliant going forward, putting in some quality crosses, but in defence he was often over run, doubled up on, and beaten too easily. He also put us in trouble a couple of times with errors, including playing a blind pass that put David Silva in. He committed errors that get ignored at Newcastle, but at Arsenal such errors can cost you games, can cost you titles. In his defence, he was perhaps behind others in terms of fitness level due to the World Cup, but it was a mixed start.
Last year, Wojciech Szczesny put in a string of magnificent performances. The challenge of Lukasz Fabianski was certainly a factor in him pushing himself to another level. Szczesny showed yesterday signs of further improvements, pulling off some key saves, commanding his box at corners and clearing the ball with his feet in tight situations. If he continues to excel this season, with the pressure put on him by David Ospina, I see no reason why he will not finish the season as the undisputed best keeper in the Premier league.
I have long been a critic of Jack Wilshere but he showed yesterday of signs of his ability. Always on the move, always in space, always looking to create. However, some things never change, and it is worrying. The worry is just how often he is fouled.
I do not know if he is targeted by other teams, or it is the way he plays, but he is our most fouled player. Last season he was continually hacked down, and again, this season he was. The worry is, with his injury record, you feel he is always just one foul from turning an ankle, putting him out for 3 months.
If can stay fit, he should have big season.
Despite it being just a friendly, it is good to get a clean sheet against an attacking team which had the likes of Dzeko, Jovetic, Silva, Navas and Toure in its ranks. Especially when in the second half, we had 4 full backs in defence. The performance by Gibbs once more makes you wonder why he did not go to the World Cup, and I have already mentioned Chambers.
It is clear Nacho Monreal is not a centre back. He could do the job as an emergency 5th option but we must buy, and we will. But it is imressive keeping a clean sheet with such few defensive options.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud, Tomas Rosicky & Joel Campbell all came off the bench. Taking into account that Theo Walcot, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski & Serge Gnabry were not in the match day squad, it highlights we have a vast array of attacking options in the squad, plenty of game changes on the bench if we are done. It is exciting.
Overall, winning the Commuity Shield is a good thing. It keeps the winning attitude in the squad up and should make the players hungry for more. Do not read too much into it, but there is plenty to be excited about.