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Arsenal vs. Utd: Mutual hatred

50-50 Challenge 3 days ago
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Aug 10, 2014

Arsenal in winning way at Wembley

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol joins "SportsCenter" to discuss Arsenal's Community Shield victory and to give his favourite for the Premier League trophy.

Those of a more cynical persuasion might suggest that Arsenal's 3-0 win over Man City was, in part, down to the Premier League champions' apparent lack of interest in the game, but for the Gunners, there are nothing but positives to take from Sunday's Wembley triumph.

If City were missing big players like Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta, Arsenal too were without their three German World Cup winners, and in terms of physical preparation, both teams have had their preseasons disrupted by players who spent a large part of the summer in Brazil.

However, while fitness is something both teams can work on and improve, Arsenal fans will be encouraged by the attitude of their team. Yes, it's little more than a glorified friendly, a game that is about getting ready for the new season, but they obviously wanted it more than their Manchester counterparts, and that in itself augurs well for what's to come. They played like it mattered to them.

With Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey picking up where they left off in May -- scoring at Wembley once more -- City had little to offer in return. What little they did create was snuffed out by fine defending, with new boy Calum Chambers impressive in the centre-half position in his competitive debut for the club. Mathieu Debuchy slotted in perfectly at right-back while Kieran Gibbs continued his quiet but obvious improvement.

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Arsene Wenger obviously used the game as part of the fitness preparations, taking off Laurent Koscielny, Alexis Sanchez and Yaya Sanogo at halftime, but even if the Blues offered a little more in the second period, they couldn't find a way through. If the defence didn't make a block, then Wojciech Szczesny made a save. The Polish stopper was as solid as he was throughout last season.

Olivier Giroud sealed the deal with a cracking goal to make it 3-0 -- somewhat hilariously, this strike earned him the man of the match award -- and with the result in little doubt, the game slowed down to exhibition pace.

City will write it off as a game that doesn't matter much, and ultimately that's true, but for Arsenal it might well prove important from a psychological point of view. Last season they were trounced 6-3 by their opponents; another defeat might have sown seeds of doubt before the teams meet again in mid-September.

Instead, they were more than deserving of their victory, and winning is a nice habit to get into. Today allowed Wenger to ease players like Alexis and Koscielny into action before the Crystal Palace opener, and it will provide a nice confidence boost ahead of that game, and the busy August that lies ahead.

Andrew Mangan

Andrew Mangan is owner and writer of the award-winning arseblog.com and has blogged about Arsenal every day since 2002. He likes late winners, clean sheets, bullet headers and John Terry falling over. You can follow him on Twitter @arseblog.

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