After the enthralling battle that took place between Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Premier League campaign of 2022/23, plenty in the wider world of football were eagerly watching on as Sunday’s FA Community Shield clash took place.
With Arsenal out of the blocks early on last year, before the season (and injuries) ultimately caught up with them and caused a few stumbles that City eventually capitalised on, Arteta has again been backed by the clubs’ board and Sunday’s action saw new signings Kai Havertz, Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber feature in the starting line up.
Neutral fans were interested in seeing just how Arsenal would fare against their opposition given the obvious disappointment they faced only a few months ago, and whilst City were the slightly slicker side on the day (as you would expect with fewer newbies settling in), they did not overly dominate in reality. The statistics on the day were very minorly in their favour, but Arteta will be delighted with how his side played and how close a battle they made the 90 minutes and stoppage time.
Heads certainly did not drop when City took the lead late on in the 77th minute of the second half with a fabulous strike from youngster Cole Palmer, and Arsenal kept plugging away and eventually got their just rewards, even if there was some luck at play. Having cut in from the wing, eleven minutes into stoppage time, Leandro Trossard struck a good effort, which dinked off a City player and totally wrong footed goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.
Having managed to take the game to penalties, Kevin de Bruyne saw his effort rebound off the crossbar and Rodri’s effort was saved by Aaron Ramsdale to take them to victory.
Arteta and Arsenal will be delighted to have got one over City, particularly as they led the Premier League for 248 days before ultimately falling short, but as football fans will know the Community Shield is rarely a predictor of a Premier League winner. Since 2011, only once has the winner secured the PL title, and City themselves have played in the last three, and lost the last three, but that will not dent the emotions Arsenal players and fans are feeling right now as it will give them a good boost ahead of the challenges that the coming months will provide.
Equally, with a nod to recent history, City will be disappointed but not disheartened, and will remain confident that they can pick up yet another league title in the coming year.
With the strengthening that some sides have done, 2023/24 could see a very compelling top two battle, with a bit of a reshaping of Sky preferred top six – and there is less than a week to go before we kick off for real!
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