The FA Community Shield
10 Aug 2014 - 3:00 PM
FA Cup winners Arsenal hit three without reply against Manchester City to lift The FA Community Shield in an impressive display at Wembley Stadium.
The Premier League champions looked lacklustre throughout, and they could not handle the live-wire, attacking threat of the Gunners as goals from Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud sealed victory.
Arsene Wenger handed three of his summer signings their first competitive starts. Chilean World Cup star Alexis Sanchez took his place in the attack following his move from Barcelona, with Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy lining-up in defence in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart watched the action from the City substitutes bench, with new boy Willy Caballero preferred in goal by boss Manuel Pellegrini. Fellow new arrival Fernando also started.
Despite the heavy downpours hitting Wembley in the build-up to kick-off, the sun had broken through as the action got started, and there was a pacey opening to the encounter on the quick surface.
Arsenal enjoyed the majority of possession in the early exchanges, with full-backs Kieran Gibbs and Debuchy offering support to the attack down either channel.
And it was the latter who broke past Aleksandar Kolarov down the right on eight minutes, beating the Serbian for pace before sending a cross towards the head of Yaya Sanogo from the touchline. But the big striker was denied as Gael Clichy did well to head clear six yards out.
City responded, but it was Debuchy who was doing the defending this time. Jesus Navas’ pull-back was met by Samir Nasri, but his fierce effort was bravely blocked by the body of Arsenal’s right-back.
Wenger's men were looking the more dangerous going forward - the trio of Sanchez, Cazorla and Jack Wilshere moving the ball around deep inside the City half, and they were rewarded for their early attacking intent on 21 minutes.
With City back line penned in on the edge of their area, the ball rolled astray from Sanogo. Wilshere attempted a strike but was denied by a crunching tackle from Dedryck Boyata and the ball continued to run in to the path of Cazorla.
He turned and hit a low, left foot drive across Caballero and inside the far post from bang on the 18-yard line.
Two minutes later their lead could have been doubled as Wilshere slipped a pass through to Sanogo. He carried the ball inside the left hand side of the box but pulled his strike wide of the far post.
City regrouped, keeping possession and slowing the tempo down with half-time approaching – although they did manage to create a chance for an equaliser with a quick-fire breakaway.
Kolarov outpaced the defence down the left to run into the area, and his low cross found Nasri, courtesy of a slight deflection, but the Frenchman was unable to adjust his feet in time to get an effort off.
Then, moments later, there was a second for Arsenal as Ramsey finished off a Gunners’ counter attack.
The ball was played forward to Sanago, who only had Boyata for company on the edge of the City area. The 21-year-old forward showed his strength and composure to hold off the defender, before teeing it back to Ramsey. The Welshman flicked a yard forward before firing past the ‘keeper.
Now with a two-goal advantage, Arsene Wenger took the opportunity to make a triple substitution at the break as Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal replaced Yaya Sanogo, Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny, while City threw on David Silva for Samir Nasri.
Despite the three pairs of fresh legs, it was the Premier League champions who started the second half the brighter as they attempted a fightback. They were only denied by the post as Navas’s deep cross was headed on to the woodwork by Stevan Jovetic.
The Montenegrin striker, who endured a difficult first season in England last year with a number of injury problems, was right in the thick of it after an inconspicuous opening 45 minutes, and he came close again moments later.
Kolarov raced down left, bombing forwards before playing the ball back to Jovetic to let rip from 20 yards, but Szczesny produced a strong save low to his right to deny him once again.
Sensing they were starting to take control, Pellegrini made a double substitute as James Milner and Bruno Zuculini were brought into the mix on the hour.
But neither touched the ball before they found their side three down a minute later. Giroud held off the challenge from the Zuculini before unleashing a fabulous left-footed sizzler from 25 yards high into the top corner. It left ‘keeper Cabellero with no chance.
A perfect afternoon for Arsenal and their fans, who pick-up their first piece of silverware of the season.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): 1 Wojciech Szczesny; 2 Mathieu Debuchy, 6 Laurent Koscielny, 21 Calum Chambers, 3 Kieran Gibbs; 8 Mikel Arteta (c); 17 Alexis Sanchez , 10 Jack Wilshere, 16 Aaron Ramsey, 19 Santi Cazorla; 22 Yaya Sanogo
Subs: 12 Olivier Giroud for Sanogo (45), 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Sanchez (45), 18 Nacho Monreal for Koscielny (45), 20 Mathieu Flamini for Wilshere (68), 7 Tomas Rosicky for Cazorla (70), 28 Joel Campbell for Ramsey (86)
Subs not used: 50 Emiliano Martinez
Goals: Cazorla (21), Ramsey (42), Giroud (61)
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): 13 Willy Caballero; 22 Gael Clichy, 38 Dedryck Boyata, 33 Matija Nastasic, 11 Aleksandar Kolarov; 6 Fernando, 42 Yaya Toure (c); 15 Jesus Navas, 35 Stevan Jovetic, 8 Samir Nasri; 10 Edin Dzeko
Subs: 21 David Silva for Nasri (45), 36 Bruno Zuculini for Toure (60), 7 James Milner for Dzeko (60), 2 Micah Richards for Kolarov (76), 12 Scott Sinclair for Navas (85)
Subs not used: 1 Joe Hart, 19 Karim Bekik
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini