It’s up for grabs now: Man City v. Arsenal!


It’s up for grabs now. Well, maybe. We go into a Community Shield clash against Man City with everything and nothing at stake. Win, and we’ve claimed two trophies before the Prem season has even begun, and, what’s more, we claimed a Citeh scalp as well. Lose, and, well, it’s just the Community Shield, a trophy that falls somewhere above the Emirates Cup but below the Carabao Cup (even if qualifying for this particular cup depends on having won the Prem or FA Cup the season before…). Can we turn this into a signal of intent?

This is one trophy that Pep has been oddly averse to pursuing, having won it just twice since taking the helm for the 2016-17 season despite winning the Prem five times in those seven seasons. Pep is a remorseless, eatin’ machine…but this is one trophy that just doesn’t get him salivating as the others on offer. More’s the pity, as he could have been boasting about a quadruple (with an asterisk) had he taken last season’s Community Shield more seriously. Ah, well, let Liverpool have their bottle.

As for this year’s Community Shield, it may just serve as a preview for the Prem season to come. Man City have been strangely quiet in the transfer market, bidding adieu to Mahrez and Gündoğan whilst signing Kovačić and now Gvuardiol. By contrast, we’ve been busy little bees, signing Havertz, Rice, and Timber in order to build a squad that can contend on numerous fronts. While this particular piece of silverware might rank quite low on each squad’s list of priorities, it might still stand as an interesting proxy war for those larger priorities, namely, the Prem itself.

Let’s be honest—Arteta’s record against Guardiola doesn’t inspire much confidence. We’ve one just once against Man City since Arteta took the reigns (not that that’s much different to previous years…). The record is harrowing: 1W 0D 8L with a combined scoreline of 23-5. That one win came of course along the way to our winning the 2020 FA Cup, which may go to show that Arteta, fielding the XI that you see below, can occasionally get the better of his mentor.

We come up against what amounts to a win-win here: win, and we can rightfully (?) claim that we scalped Citeh and earned some silverware. Lose, and we can just as rightfully (?) claim that it was only the Community Shield to begin with. As with the preseason friendly against Barca, the one that saw us thrash the Catalans quite thoroughly, the upside far outweighs the downside.

If there’s to be any tactical nuance here, it’s the setback to Gabriel Jesus. His recent procedure means he’s unavailable, but it also means that Arteta may have an ace up his sleeve. Who’ll play through the middle? Will it be Trossard, who likes to drift wide to the left? Maybe it will be Martinelli, who likes to drive straight into the heart of the defense. Maybe it’ll be Havertz, who—let’s face it—could do anything for good or evil should he be played at CF.

As you can see from the image above, the only player in this squad to have beaten Man City is Kieran Tierney. That gives the Citizens a bit of a psychological edge over us. Not only are Man City a massive monolith that looms over the Prem, they lord it over us in particular. To defeat them on Sunday, even if it’s “just” the Community Shield, could give this squad a massive confidence boost and the kind of edge it needs to sustain it over the season-long tilt at the Prem title. It’s up for grabs now.

Or not. Should we lose (as is to be expected), we can chalk it up to Man City’s massive superiority, which was earned after all through entirely ethical means. We can continue to punch above our weight while City punch downward on anyone who dares to rise up against them. I’ll stop short of engaging in any political allegories after suggesting that anyone who wrests silverware from this Man City side has done a favour to football itself.

Okay, so that last bit’s a bit overwrought, as is any coverage of the Community Shield itself. Whatever the result, any of us, regardless of affiliation, can contort ourselves into any position to serve any agenda.

Having said all of that, I do sincerely hope that we thrash our opponents six ways to Sunday.

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6 thoughts on “It’s up for grabs now: Man City v. Arsenal!

  1. Eoin ó Conchobhair

    typical bit of hyperbole, eh? This is one that could cut either way, but I don’t think Guardiola will be too fussed about it either way. He can take it or leave it. Still, any chance at beating City is one we shouldn’t take lightly. I hope we can find a way past them by hook or by crook.

  2. cityzen

    haha good look you pathetic imitations. your coneman Arteta is lucky just be on the same touchline as Guardiola. whatever side each one names, the result will be the same: just another hiding as we go on to yet another treble or maybe even quadruple, in case anyone cares about this piece of silverware.

  3. A Simple Truth

    this match means infinitely more to MA than his former employers, as such he will likely overthink matters and possibly learn nothing as a result…if I had to hazard a guess, I can picture MA lying awake at night contemplating all manners of strategic maneuvers for just such a matchup, then when it came time to put up or shut up, he will invarably turn to something far more comfortable and underwhelming…this will likely come about as a result of two key variables; firstly, he’s a tactical lightweight, at this juncture anyways, and secondly, he will convince himself that he would be wise to save such “trickery” for a match that matters considerably more…of course, when that latter time comes he will find another reason why not to do it then too…hopefully I’m wrong and he grows a pair, but I’m certainly not holding my breath…in the end, just hoping for a good match

    1. Jon Shay

      Mate, I have to say it but I’ve seen mayo left out in the sun that aged better than this. After 25-30 minutes of Man City dominance, we grew into the game and were unlucky not to earn a scoreline that reflected that growth. Yes, City had gilt-edged chances and were denied by Ramsdale on a few occasions, but the result was well-earned even if it was only the Community Shield. The celebrations from Walker, Guardiola, and others after Coleman’s goal showed that they saw it as a match worth winning.

      1. A Simple Truth

        Quite a stretch Jon…we scored on a rather weak and fortuitously deflected shot in the 101st minute, which shouldn’t have even existed…only someone so thirsty for an “I told you so” moment would have leaned into the narrative you’re so vehemently espousing…realistically we had 3 moments of consequence in that match, Ramsdale’s save on Rodri, the setup by Saka that Havertz butchered and Vieira’s penalty, considering what he did from the spot against United…if you think that match highlighted MA’s tactical growth, you were either half in the bag or watching with his family and friends…of course I’m pleased that we ended up on the winning end of things, but that, in and of itself, doesn’t make me blind to what actually transpired between the lines…I’m likewise happy for the lads, as winning can be contagious, so if this helps from a confidence and/or bonding capacity, I’m all for it…btw Pep is 0-3 in his most recent Community Shield appearances

        1. Jon Shay Post author

          I’ll remind you that I rarely if ever do anything vehemently – to say so suggests I’m losing rational thought. This was as good as we’ve played against City even if it’s clear that they’re still the superior side.

          If you read my post-match, I was — wait for it — critical of Arteta for failing to either anticipate or adjust to how City started playing more of a counter-attacking style in the second half. I believe that City had close to 65% possession in the first half but finished with “just” 51%, meaning we kept roughly 65% ourselves in the second. We were far too open to their counters – Palmer’s goal from one such counter (which did involve a bit of luck, what with Partey unwilling/unable to foul Foden early in the build-up, Rice missing the interception, and Tierney’s attempted clearance falling directly to de Bruyne).

          For the first half, I might give Arteta a 6/10 for how we set up. Grealish & Haaland were completely nullified, and, despite those first 25 minutes during which they had something 80% possession we picked up three yellow cards for two fouls and dissent, we were holding our own. In the second half, I might give Arteta a 4/10. For all of his sideline histrionics, he never seemed to ask anyone to heed their counters.

          In the end, we were indeed fortunate for the deflection – but it’s entirely possible that Trossard’s shot had Ortega beaten. Had Ortega parried it, there was Nketiah nipping in at the far post to pounce, and if there’s one thing Nketiah does fell, it’s finish from six yards. Faint praise, indeed.

          It’s a trophy from a friendly. I’m sure we’re quite content to add it to the collection.


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