Walcott 8mins, Ramsey 59mins, Giroud 62mins
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- 10 August 2013 17:15
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
City signed off their 2013/14 pre-season World Tour at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium.
In a match dubbed as the “Carlsberg Super Match”, Alvaro Negredo's second goal for City wasn't enough to give the Blues a winning end to pre-season as Arsenal ran out 3-1 victors.
With nine days until City’s Premier League opener against Newcastle United, a match against the North London side offered the perfect workout ahead of Monday week’s big kick-off.
For the previous two seasons, there have been showpiece Community Shield occasions to look forward to but this meeting with the Gunners offered a more than adequate substitute against top-class opposition on a pleasant mid-summer’s afternoon in Finland.
From the first glance at the City teamsheet, it was clear that the time for experimentation and rotation was over, with a strong XI named by Manuel Pellegrini.
Arsenal’s XI was just as familiar, with Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fielded as Arsene Wenger’s front three.
City made a bright start to the game and could have been one-up within the first 120 seconds after typically tenacious work from Etihad Player of the Year Pablo Zabaleta who played in Negredo but the Spanish hitman was wrongly adjudged to be offside with just Szczesny to beat.
All of the rapid, incisive and direct build-up play that has characterised these early weeks of the Pellegrini reign was evident in the early minutes, with Negredo looking to feed on any sniff of a chance to open the scoring.
However, it was Arsene Wenger's men who took an early lead against the run of play after eight minutes, when Theo Walcott beat his former teammate Clichy to a measured through ball from Ramsey and dinked over Joe Hart to make it 1-0.
There was a pleasing reaction to that early set-back and the Blues very nearly levelled a few minutes later after more intricate play involving Zabaleta and Silva but Milner’s drive was always rising over the crossbar.
Arsenal had clearly been sent out with the directive to dominate possession but City were having the best chances on the counter-attack and Dzeko would have taken his pre-season tally to five had it not been for a smart save by Szczesny after the Bosnian broke clear on the left.
The first-half dissolved into a fragmented, bitty spectacle, with regular stoppages for niggly fouls punctuating what had been a free-flowing, attractive encounter for the first half an hour.
Until that point, the intensity of the game had been only a couple of notches below a full-blooded Premier League affair, so the crowd in Helsinki were hoping for a return to this frenetic pace in the second 45.
City’s pre-season record at that point read three wins and three defeats but with plenty of quality on the bench in the shape of Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Micah Richards, there was still optimism that the Blues could turn around this half-time deficit.
The afore-mentioned trio entered the fray at half-time and it was Navas who almost had a hand in a City equaliser shortly after his introduction.
The Three Amigos: Silva, Navas and Negredo, combined but the latter just couldn’t find the far corner of the net with his powerful shot from a difficult angle.
City paid for their profligacy in front of goal just before the hour when some statuesque defending gave Ramsey the opportunity to get on the end of a through ball by Walcott and round Hart to make it 2-0.
It got worse on 61 minutes, when Walcott launched a defence splitting pass from the half-way line and Giroud beat Vincent Kompany to it and lifted over Hart to further extend the lead.
Stevan Jovetic was introduced with 20 minutes to go and City managed to reduce the arrears ten minutes later when Negredo shrugged off the attentions of Laurent Koscielny and got the goal his performance deserved, slotting through the onrushing Fabianski's legs.
That was the end of the scoring, meaning Arsenal held on for a 3-1 victory, though fortunately it’s a defeat that costs City nothing but a few blushes and a wound or two to lick.
All eyes now on the real business which gets under way a week on Monday when Newcastle are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium.