Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla impressed for the Gunners while Manchester City’s Micah Richards looked lost
“Man smokes cigarette during holiday” was arguably the most overblown story of the summer, but equally it did Jack Wilshere few favours and a month away from the six-year anniversary of his debut for Arsenal there is a sense that the midfielder has reached a crossroads in his career, and must now finally show that the hype which has surrounded him for so long is justified. A great goal here, an eye-catching drag-back there, is simply not enough for a player who is meant to be the future for club and country – consistency is required. The first thing Wilshere needs to do is nail down a position and while he may have No10 on his back, he no longer stands a chance of being this side’s No10, with Aaron Ramsey having pretty much nailed down that role (even more so after another outstanding display here). Wilshere started in central midfield alongside Mikel Arteta and impressed with his constant willingness to get forward as well as with his neat distribution, a perfectly weighted pass to Kieran Gibbs on 18 minutes particularly catching the eye. The 22-year-old was applauded by the Arsenal fans upon being replaced by Mathieu Flamini on 68 minutes and they, as well as he, will hope this is a sign of things to come.
When you are part of a club that collects players like Katie Price collects gormless lovers it is easy to become a forgotten man there. Step forward Stevan Jovetic, who arrived at Manchester City from Fiorentina in July 2013 for £22m with a reputation for being one of the most exciting strikers in Europe, but after a season defined by injuries and fierce competition for starting places, fell into the shadows. Yet there were still three goals in two starts from the Montenegro international during the last campaign and with another five during pre-season, he finally looks ready to make his mark for the champions. Here Jovetic got another chance to impress after being selected in attack alongside Edin Dzeko and he looked sharp, regularly drifting into a position between Arsenal’s midfield and defence. There was good hold-up play on 13 minutes followed by an incisive pass to Aleksandar Kolarov and then, in the second half, a header from Jesús Navas’s cross that hit a post, and a rasping, close-range drive which forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save. City are apparently willing to sell Jovetic if they can secure the signature of Radamel Falcao, but it may be the case that sticking with him is the best way forward.
“Oh Santi Cazorla” came the roar from the Arsenal fans soon after the Spaniard had given their side the lead on 21 minutes and, with it, there was a reminder of a player who has become overshadowed somewhat as Arsène Wenger’s stockpiling of technically-gifted-Europeans-who-play-somewhere- behind-the-lone-striker has gathered pace over the last few years. Cazorla arrived from Málaga for £15m two years ago and impressed from the outset before a combination of Mesut Özil’s arrival and a dip in form nudged him out of the spotlight. But the 29-year-old remains a highly-talented player, as he has now shown with impressive scoring displays in Arsenal’s last two appearances at Wembley — this contest as well as the FA Cup final win over Hull City — and of all the wonderfully creative players Arsenal possess, which now of course includes Alexis Sánchez, Cazorla could prove the most crucial in the season to come.
As Manchester City went down with barely a fight and their supporters no doubt took comfort from the fact that a host of stellar talents will soon return to the side, it felt rather poignant to look down the team sheet and see Micah Richards’s name among the substitutes. It is not that long ago that Richards would have been viewed as being among the players who could add quality to City’s lineup but now he is close to an outcast; a man so far on the fringes that he has asked to leave in order to find first-team football.
This game proved further evidence of Richards’s fall from grace, with the manager Manuel Pellegrini preferring to start with a left-back at right-back in Gaël Clichy and the rarely-used Dedryck Boyata at centre-back, with Richards, whose summer has been best defined with a horrendous penalty miss in the pre-season defeat to Olympiakos, having to wait until the 76th minute and with the game dead as a contest to come off the bench. At 26 years of age Richards is not past it, but if he is ever to forge a successful career he needs to leave City as quickly as possible, especially with Bacary Sagna, another man who plays in his position, having been acquired over the summer.
Everyone associated with Arsenal should be pleased with their victory but the Community Shield remains an unreliable gauge of things to come. Of the previous 10 winners, only half have gone on to win the title the following season, while the managers of the previous two winners have been sacked before the next occasion (Roberto Mancini and David Moyes). For Arsenal, the important thing now is to start the season in convincing style, which they did not do last season when losing 3-1 to Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium. Crystal Palace are the visitors this Saturday and on this evidence, they could be in for a difficult match.