Arsenal finished their preseason campaign in impressive fashion with a 3-1 victory over Premier League rivals Manchester City in Helsinki. After a poor Emirates Cup the previous weekend, Arsene Wenger will have been pleased with a solid overall performance from his men just seven days before their league season gets underway.
Both Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey stood out going forward and traded assists for each other to get on the score sheet before the England international’s pass set-up substitute Olivier Giroud to make it 3-0 in the 61st minute. Alvaro Negredo pulled one back for City late on and, despite his side not firing on all cylinders, the performance or result is unlikely to unduly concern Manuel Pellegrini.
City, with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho busy in midfield, controlled the game in the opening minutes. Yet, with Arsenal’s first attack they struck their opponents with a classic sucker punch. Ramsey supplied an inch-perfect through ball that allowed Walcott’s pace to get him in behind his former teammate Gael Clichy and the Gunners wideman produced a sumptuous dinked finish over Hart and into the net.
Another Arsenal counter almost soon provided a second but hart was just able to get fingertips to Bacary Sagna’s long-range drive and turn it onto the post.
At the other end, a defensive mishap from Arsenal almost proved costly when Alvaro Negredo beat Wojciech Szczesny to a ball in the air and it required Laurent Koscielny to head the Spaniard’s hooked volley off the line. But, otherwise, the Gunners were largely secure at the back, thanks in no small part to another fine display from Koscielny.
The partnership of Negredo and Dzeko up front was, albeit in its early stages, not one that looked likely to produce huge fruit for City in the season ahead. The Bosnian missed City’s best chance of the opening period when he fired straight at Szczesny after a fine David Silva pass.
Negredo, meanwhile, was far the liveliest of the pair and appeared to thrive more after the break when Dzeko was withdrawn and the former Sevilla man could furrow a lone burrow leading the line. His finishing, though, was all that was missing. In one instance poor control on his chest prevented Negredo getting a shot away when clean though and then minutes later he dragged an effort wide of the target.
Unfortunately for City that lack of a clinical touch was not shared by their opponents. Within the space of three minutes either side of the hour mark, Arsenal took the match away from Pellegrini’s side. First, a delightful one-two between Ramsey and Walcott got the Wales international free on goal and the he coolly faked past Hart before sliding into the empty net. And before City could settle they found themselves three goals behind. Walcott supplied a fine long pass over the top that caught out Vincent Kompany and allowed Olivier Giroud to control before hooking impressively over the advanced Hart.
As substitutions littered the final stages, Negredo got his rewards for his considerable efforts with 11 minutes remaining. The Spanish striker displayed the strength that should see him adapt well to Premier League life by holding off Koscielny before this time showcasing the finishing ability that made him a regular scorer in La Liga with a placed shot past half-time substitute Lukasz Fabiabski.