Arsenal bounce back miraculously to start the season with silverware
Arsenal had a fantastic start to their 2023-24 season, as Mikel Arteta’s team started the new campaign by winning a silverware. In the 2023 FA Community Shield, the Gunners handed Manchester City a 4-1 defeat on penalties in London’s Wembley Stadium, after the match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Arteta set his team up in a 4-3-3 for this clash. New arrival Jurrien Timber slotted in at left-back, whereas in the absence of striker Gabriel Jesus, another new signing Kai Havertz started up front. Besides the pair, Declan Rice was also given a start.
On the other hand, Manchester City’s new mega-money signing Josko Gvardiol was not utilised in this match since he arrived very recently, but his fellow Croatian teammate, Mateo Kovacic was handed a start.
The Cityzens had the better start to the game and had their first chance in the 6th minute when Manuel Akanji launched a dangerous cross, but Ben White got to the ball before Argentine attacker Julian Alvarez could.
The pressure kept on mounting, as Pep Guardiola’s team had another good opportunity in the 14th minute. Thomas Partey lost possession at an area which could have proven to be fatal, for fortunately for his team, Rodri’s shot was not accurate.
While Arsenal rarely had any chances for the first part of the first half, the biggest opening of the half fell for them in the 25th minute. White dribbled past Akanji to lay a pass for Havertz, whose shot was saved by Stefan Ortega. The rebound then fell kindly for Gabriel Martinelli, but his powerful attempt was blocked by a brave John Stones.
That chance proved to be enough motivation for the Gunners to get out of their defensive shell, as it was followed by another glorious opportunity in the 39th minute. This time, skipper Martin Odegaard played a ball for Bukayo Saka, who found Havertz in a great position, but the German international could not capitalize on the opening yet again.
The last big chance of the half came to City, as both teams were engaged in an even contest. Seeing Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale off his line, Rodri tried a chip from a long way out, but his shot was not on target.
Like the first half, the second half also started with Guardiola’s team pulling the strings, as the first goal nearly arrived only seven minutes after the resumption. From a corner, Stones jumped the highest and did well to keep his attempt on target, but Ramsdale came to Arsenal’s rescue at the crucial moment.
The next few minutes were a bit cagey, with neither team being able to completely dominate the other. Against the run of play, Arsenal had a big chance in the 68th minute and it was another run from their right-back, White, which caused problems in the City defense. The Englishman played a great low cross for Partey, but the Ghanaian could not get to the ball in time.
Only two minutes later, Manchester City’s substitutes nearly broke Arsenal’s resilience as Phil Foden found Cole Palmer with a great pass before the latter’s shot was deflected wide by Timber.
However, Palmer did manage to get his name on the scoresheet just 7 minutes later. This time, another substitute, Kevin De Bruyne found him in space with a pass, and though he had plenty of red shirts ahead of him, Palmer managed to launch a precise curler into the back of the net.
For Guardiola’s team, the match should have been all done and secured just 5 minutes later, with Foden getting arguably the biggest chance of the game. Alvarez played a defense-splitting ball for the English winger, who had an entire goal gaping but got his shot saved by his national teammate, Ramsdale.
From the resulting corner, Ramsdale was immense for Arteta’s team yet again. De Bruyne found Rodri making a free run inside the box, as the Arsenal defense was caught napping. While the Spaniard kept his header on target, Ramsdale got out just in time to make the save.
Those misses eventually proved to be costly, as Arsenal equalised in the 11th minute of additional time. From a corner, Leandro Trossard launched a shot which should have been comfortably saved by Ortega had it not taken any deflections, but it took two – first from Alvarez and then Akanji, before wrong-footing the City goalkeeper and bringing Arsenal back in the game.
In the penalties, De Bruyne struck the crossbar and Rodri’s feeble attempt was saved by Ramsdale, while all of Arsenal’s four takers in Odegaard, Trossard, Saka and Fabio Vieira were clinical.