by Satish Sekar at Wembley Stadium © Satish Sekar (August 10th 2014)
The Trophy Habit
After almost a decade without a trophy Arsène Wenger has delivered two in less than three months. Arsenal beat Steve Bruceʼs Hull City last May to set up this afternoonʼs clash against Manuel Pellegriniʼs Manchester City. Olivier Giroud scored the last a pick of Arsenalʼs three goals – sumptuous 25 yard dipping and swerving effort that gave former Málaga shot-stopper Willy Caballero no chance.
Santi Cazorla opened the scoring after 21 minutes. With less than five minutes of the first half remaining Aaron Ramsey got the second. Yaya Sanogo provided the assists for both goals. He ploughed through Cityʼs defence before poking it through to Cazorla in the area. Caballero should have done better, but a lacklustre Manchester City side posed few threats.
Sanogo could have grabbed one for himself with just under half an hour played, but failed to capitalise on the chance created by Cazorla by dragging his shot wide. Wojiech Szcizęsny was a virtual spectator in the first half as new signing Mathieu Debuchy blocked Samir Nasriʼs effort. Predictably, the former Arsenal midfielderʼs every touch was loudly jeered by Arsenalʼs fans.
Both managers rang in the changes at half time. Olivier Giroud replaced Sanogo. It proved an inspired substitution. Jesús Navas González cross seven minutes into the second half gave Montenegrin international Stevan Jovetić – the only City player to impress – an opportunity to halve the deficit. His header from close range hit the post to Szczęsnyʼs right and he blasted the rebound high and wide.
Less than five minutes later Aleksandar Kolarov put Jovetić through. Jovetićʼs fierce 25 yard effort was well saved by Szczęsny. Just past the hour mark Giroud made the match safe with a stunning slightly deflected effort. Jack Wilshere on the right wing threaded it through to the French international striker from the right wing.
Polish international keeper Szczęsny ensured that Arsenal kept a clean sheet. However, he required treatment twice after collisions in and out of the area – the latter with substitute Scott Sinclair being the more serious.
Although Pellegriniʼs side was far from full strength, there could be no excuse for such a poor display. Captain Vincent Kompany and World Cup finalists Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and Sergio Agüero were notable absentees. Álvaro Negredo is out injured, but Arsenal were below full strength too.
World Cup winners Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Laurent Koscielny were absent and Colombian World Cup star David Ospina wasnʼt on the bench either. Theo Walcott has yet to recover fully from injury too.
The £15m sale of Belgian defender Thomas Vermaellen to Barçelona is yet another example of Wengerʼs transfer acumen. After almost a decade of trophyless slumber Wenger has awakened expectations at the Emirates Stadium once more and is confident that major trophies will follow. Despite the defeat and nature of it Pellegrini remained confident that Manchester City would retain their title.