Arsenal won the Community Shield. It mattered. Two things should lead you to that conclusion.
- Pep Gs reaction when City went 1-0 up
- Arteta’s when we equalised after 100 minutes of play
The victory doesn’t impact the winning machine Pep has in Manchester, they already know how to do the business against everyone – they have the Champions IP coded into their very existence after a tremendous run under the best manager in the world.
It’s different for Arsenal.
Our season faltered last year because Manchester City knew they were chasing boys. Our boys knew they weren’t ready for the big time. When the crunch came, we lost the league because were weren’t strong enough physically and we were a long way off being mentally equipped to deal with their presence. That’s to be expected, they’re seasoned pros, we were the second youngest team in the league last season. That didn’t change our reality – you can’t be Champions if you have a bogey team you are literally petrified of. We needed a win to unshackle the fear that we can’t beat them. It really didn’t matter how it came, but the fact it happened after going 1-0 in an important game will feel extra special.
This has to be our moment. I can’t listen to any more ‘Arteta is a genius’ pieces of content, because no one will care unless he has trophies stacked up against his name. Right now, he’s the kid at school that blitzed his GCSEs with 16 A* grades. Well, we all know plenty of kids that did that, only to end up working 14 hr days wrapping balloons around people’s arms at Thurrock TGi Fridays singing *that* birthday song that all the patrons pretend they didn’t know what was coming. Being a genius needs more substance, in football, it’s the metal kind.
Arsenal looked like they are about to prove Arteta’s genius after yesterday.
We shook off the bullshit of preseason with a decisive performance. The team started with a bit of fear, but eased into the game, controlled the nerves, and grew into the occassion like an early 2000s Italian team in the Champions League. Pound for pound, there wasn’t much in it. We had the better chances in the first half but only had positive vibes as a great xG to show for it.
There was a lot of online celebration before the game had finished. After 55 minutes I’d seen enough, I was happy, I know plenty of fans felt the performance was enough even if we didn’t win. When we went 1-0 down, I was resigned to a glorious failure… it wasn’t to be. Leandro BOSSARD had other ideas, in the 100th minute, he took a chance, cutting in from the right with a smash-and-grab deflected goal that Frank Lampard would have been very proud of. This goal spoke to more than Trossard’s fine form… it spoke to a team that wants to be known for scoring late goals, and it spoke to a mentality shift, because last year, we’d have been beaten if City scored that late.
My big fear has been that we’re going to struggle with the new players – at least in the short term. I might be wrong, but give me that humble pie with a little pastry dunce hat, because I’ll be happy to eat it.
The new players all looked like they’d been at Arsenal for a long time. We didn’t miss a beat against the best opposition on the planet. Mikel Arteta rolled with a new right back at left back and it wasn’t a weakness. He played Rice and Partey and it was an upgrade. He decided, as I predicted, to go with Kai Havertz as the #9 and it gave us something extremely different to a Short Boy Summer line-up.
Older heads played blinders.
Ben White – oh, he’s our right back.
Bill Saliba – worth every penny of that new deal
Odegaard – here for the crown of KDB
Thomas Partey – he’s here to stay, keep your Saudi money
Aaron Ramsdale? He heard the coach was doubting him and he showed who he was with a sublime display.
Kai Havertz turned heads with some of his play. We need to get over the rating of players based on charisma and how good they are on podcasts. The German looks al0of – the type that would hard judge you if you held a fork like a shovel at a dinner party – but that shouldn’t mean he gets unfair press. He is not Mesut Ozil, he works hard, he’s a beast, and he has so many ingredients you look for in a world-class talent. Just look at the way he turned Ben White’s errant cross behind him into a chance. Not many players in the world could do that. Was his finishing good? No. But let’s not jump to HE CAN’T DO IT conclusions just because he’s not doing banter on the main feed.
Jurrien Timber really did blow my mind. He played out of positon, filling in for Zini, and he dropped a 10/10 performance. The boy was everywhere. He has power, exceptional pace, and a brain from a galaxy far, far away. There’s just so much to his game. He moves where he wants. there seem to be very few weaknesses, and he’s slotted in like a veteran. HE IS ONLY 22. Our defence has so much depth right now, it’s crazy.
Aaron Ramsdale could have melted after the press this week, but bar one distro issue, he was excellent. After we went 1-0 down, he made two utterly crucial saves. He saved one vs one, then did brilliantly from a back post header. This saves kept us in the game and his penalty save won it for us. David Raya is coming to Arsenal to take his #1 position, make no mistake about that – but only if Aaron drops his level again. Play like that every week, it’ll be David ‘League Cup’ Raya.
We should focus a little bit on the shocking refereeing. Stuart Atwell was atrocious. He booked Partey after 7 minutes, but let Rodri foul tactically all game. He booked Mikel Arteta, a nod to Richard Keys, for touchline dissent for flagging that Rodri was making a mockery of the game. Howard Webb was sitting in the stands looking very smug – what did he think of it? When are we going to see real moves here? Our goal could have been prevented if Partey could tactically foul – he couldn’t. If Rodri had been punished, you know, at all, maybe we’d have scored earlier? Standards need to get better. Webb not looking very effective right now.
That said, I like the new rule for keeping time. Is it shit for fans who want to get home? Yes. But there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to fan convenience. The rule for accruing time for wasting away the game is critical. If you waste time against fitter more gifted players, chances are, they’re gonna get you late in the game. The Arsenal vs City game saw an extra 8 minutes added, but 10 minutes played. That helped us level the game. This is a great move considering the nonsense Newcastle got away with last season.
Back to the game – I liked the subs who drove the game forward with fast passing and more forward intent. I loved Bossard stepping up again, showing he is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. And I loved the swagger of our penalties. Odegaard leading the charge settled the nerves, Saka was always finishing, Trossard never looked like missing, and Fabio Vieira sent the doubters tweets back to drafts with a screamer for the winner.
So overall, a lot to love.
The big questions: Most Community Shield wins mean nothing – Liverpool ripped City apart last season, only to have their worst season on record.
We have 4 games that’ll tell us a lot about our season. Forest, Palace, Fulham, and United. 10 points is the target, but really, if we want to keep those title hopes at level 11, we need 12 points.
I’ve flip-flopped a lot this summer – right now, I’m halfway to flopping towards a title charge THIS season.
Let me know where you are in the comments RIGHT NOW.
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