In an utterly meaningless encounter, the result of which will have no bearing on the Premier League season, City produced a lame display whilst Arsenal were bright enough and fully deserved to lift the silverware. Their fans will no doubt be boosted ahead of the new campaign, dreams of claiming the title given hope after a relatively impressive performance, but even for the most diehard supporter, it’s a challenge to read too much into the outcome. If this match were of any importance, the performance of the Blues would have been concerning, but the reality was that the final whistle was greeted with total indifference.
The Community Shield meant little when City were defeated by Manchester United and it meant little when we emphatically brushed aside Chelsea a year later. It remains nothing more than a glorified pre-season friendly, a competitive run out before the significant action begins next weekend. A promising showing would have been welcomed, but the primary objective on Sunday was avoiding injuries and that seems to have been accomplished.
Missing a series of first-team regulars, this was largely a reserve City XI and whilst I suppose it could be argued that our back-up players shouldn’t have looked so insipid, this result won’t affect Manuel Pellegrini’s plans ahead of the campaign. He will still have faith in the squad to compete on four fronts this coming season; the only issue is how quickly those who missed this game will be ready for the intensity of the Premier League.
Dedryck Boyata and Matija Nastasic were the only available options at centre-back, with Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis having just returned to training and Eliaquim Mangala having not officially signed in time for the game (although he has now completed his move), and the inexperience of the selected duo showed. Boyata has retained his place in the squad merely because he counts as part of the much-discussed homegrown quota, while doubts about Nastasic have started to surface and he could be on his way out now Mangala has arrived. Despite having not played a minute of pre-season, it would be staggering if at least one of Kompany and Demichelis were not rushed back for the encounter with Newcastle.
Other than that, there were no worrying issues. Gael Clichy will return to competing with Aleks Kolarov for a place on the left of defence as soon as Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna are available, David Silva’s second-half display highlighted once again how he is the one player to make us tick, Stevan Jovetic showed more signs that he could be a special force throughout the season, and the goalkeeping battle is well under way.
This will be a performance and result quickly forgotten by players and fans before next weekend’s opener. A repeat dose of this tepid nature would be a cause for concern, but I’m sure it’ll be a far hungrier and more incisive City who take to the pitch on Sunday.