Ped's Pre-season Musings (2)
Manchester City yesterday took on Arsenal in Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium in the quest for the China Cup.
The match proved a stiff test for both sides with a competitive first half ending with 2 goals for the Blues.
The Ashburton Academy made a decent match of it to delight the crowd, many of whom bore the red vests of the Gunners, but it was City who came up with the goods to pull the rug from under Arsene Wenger's pre-season planning.
Like City, the London-based Elite Development Squad were shorn of their Euro 2012 boys an perhaps, more significantly, probably the next player to make it to the first team, Robin van Persie, was sitting in London with his feet up getting ready to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Mancini clearly used the first half to showcase some new tactics, some of which were hinted at during the latter half of last season. Yesterday he fielded 3 centre backs in the shape of Kompany, Toure and Savic with full backs Kolarov and Zabaleta detailed to move forward at pace wide out. It was in some way a throw back to the days of Kevin Keegan. Many Italian teams are deploying these tactics right now, so maybe its in Roberto's mind for the new season.
This is turn created space for Arsenal's dangerous wide players, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, to get into the spaces behind and feed the front players. Sadly the front players were so absent I can't remember who they were!
As we have seen over the last couple of seasons, 2011-2012 excepted, Arsenal have a catalogue of neat build-up play, but lack the cutting edge in the box. And this was the case today. Without van Persie,the light is on, but there's nobody home.
A challenging first half ended with trialist Biton bursting out of midfield, wide on the left. He played it into the penalty arc where Yaya Toure was holding court. As the Arsenal back line closed him down he had spotted Zabaleta storming into the box, just as he did against QPR, and the end product was the same. A stirring drive by Zaba zooming into the back of the net.
Yaya looks to be fit and back to his best. He was probably the best performer on the field, getting the better of Song and co with apparent ease. So it was surprise when Kolarov's run down the left and ball into the box finally found it's way through to him. The Gunners defence stepped up fractionally too late and Yaya slid the ball home for 2-0.
The scoring ended there, but City were not without scares at the back, funnily enough once they had converted to a back four. Stand-in keeper Pantilimon made two or three excellent saves but stood mesmerised as an excellent effort by Oxlade-Chamberlain cannoned off both posts and back in to play.
City conceded possession greatly in the second half but kept their lines intact, as Arsenal stepped on the gas but time and again coming up short in the penalty area.
The torrential rain meant that Title-winner Aguero was a little rusty. He spurned a hat tick of chances. Tevez looked fit and hungry and buzzed around in true Tevez style but without troubling the scorers.
Of the younger contingent I thought Biton had a reasonable game. It was perhaps a little too pacy for Razak, but has this boy grown? He's like a combination of Yaya and Richards and with a few more League Cup matches under his belt I'm sure he'll come on well.
Changes were made only during the last 20 minutes or so and it pleasing to see Denis Suarez get a look in. Having said that, by then the pitch was waterlogged and wasn't really the place for his Silva-esque cultured football.
But a good win it was for the Blues against their feeder club. RVP is said to be disappointed that the Dutch Pancake House in St Peter's Square has been demolished and in view of Tevez comments on the shortage of restaurants in Manchester, is considering his options.
Next we move onto Kuala Lumpur to play Malaysia and who knows maybe the first trophy of the new campaign.
all times East Manchester
Mon 30 Jul 13h45 Malaysia Select XI, Kuala Lumpur, Friendly (ESPN TV)
Tue 31 Jul 19h45 Oldham Athletic, Boundary Park, Friendly
Sat 04 Aug 20h30 Wolfsburg, Volkswagen Arena, Friendly (ESPN TV)
Sun 05 Aug 19h00 Limerick, Jackman Park, Friendly
Sun 12 Aug 13h30 Chelsea, Villa Park, Community Shield
Sa 18 Aug 15h00 Southampton, The Etihad PL
Sa 25 Aug 15h00 Liverpool, Anfield PL
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIXTURES:
The draw for the 2012/13 Champions League Group Stage will take place in Monaco on Thursday, 30th August. The opening round of games will kick off in the week commencing Monday, 17th September.