Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia continued with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Bird Cage stadium in Beijing yesterday afternoon. Four changes were made to the team that started against Malaysia XI. Fabianski, Bartley, Song and Walcott all started in place of Mannone, Djourou, Coquelin and Chamakh.
The newspapers are, inevitably, focusing on City’s preparations to defender their Premier League title, but in my opinion the result was particularly harsh on Arsenal. The Gunners looked dangerous going forward, denied only by some good goalkeeping from Costel Pantilimon and the goal-frame. I was wondering why neither Wojceich Szczesny or Joe Hart featured, but as somebody pointed out the managers will want to give their second and third choice keepers a run-around; Hart and Shezza will get plenty of game time of the course of the season.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Arsène Wenger summed up Arsenal’s performance perfectly. There were many positives. We went forward well “without calculating too much”, taking a few more risks than usual, but we ”were a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack”.
- The first point to make is that the game was obviously against slightly tougher opposition than that which we had faced earlier in the week. This meant that the match was played at a much higher tempo and the team did not look quite as lackadaisical as they had been against Malaysia XI.
- One of the big changes that I noticed is that many of the players were taking shots from distance, in particular the likes of Carl Jenkinson and Andre Santos in the first half, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (who hit both posts) in the second. This was a welcome adjustment to our usual “pass-it-around-the-edge-of-the-box-but-don’t-do-anything-with-it” football.
- Abou Diaby lasted 77 minutes without picking up a single injury.
- Many of the emerging academy players, in particular Chuks Aneke, put in a great performance.
- As noted above, we were particularly vulnerable on the counter-attack. This is something that Steve Bould needs to work on in training as the team switched off and shipped two goals in quick succession (Zabeleta and Yaya Toure) at the end of the first half. The good news is that we won’t be playing against the likes of Tevez and Aguero every week; this game was not the be all and end all.
- Arsenal showed their profligacy in front of goal. We had many good chances, but a lot of our shots were inches wide or straight at the keeper.
Arsenal’s next match is tomorrow in Hong Kong against Kitchee FC. The match will be on Arsenal Player and ESPN at 10am BST. There is then a 2-week gap until we travel to Germany to face FC Cologne, during which time the players will continue training at London Colney with the players who were left at home. Our pre-season match against Nigeria was cancelled due to security complications.
“It was lively and both teams tried to play. I think we were quite dominant in the first half but suddenly found ourselves down 2-0 against the run of play. I feel Manchester City played on a very solid defence with five real defenders and we played forward without calculating too much. We were a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack and that is where we got caught. But overall what is important for us is to see everybody play and give everybody competition. We lasted 90 minutes at quite a good level.
“I would personally like to thank them [the Chinese fans] because they were absolutely outstanding. I would love to book a few 747s and bring them all to the Emirates! They have been outstanding throughout our whole stay. They have been better than our team!”