Scott Sinclair

Majestic Arsenal Batter Below-Par City

The Community Shield saw FA cup holders Arsenal run out 3-0 winners over Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Santi Cazorla fired Arsenal in front with an expertly executed finish whilst Aaron Ramsey smashed home a second just before half time.

Olivier Giroud completed the rout with a stunning long-range strike over Willy Caballero.

It was a very impressive team display from the North London side who looked solid at the back, dangerous going forward and were rarely troubled by their Premier League rivals.

City, however, offered an extremely flat performance and Manuel Pellegrini made no effort to hide his frustration on the touchline.

Calum Chambers, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy all made their competitive debuts for Arsenal whilst Fernando and Caballero made their first starts for City.

City were missing some key players such as Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta so Pellegrini won’t be too concerned by how easily his side were dismantled.

Arsenal were also without World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil and will be delighted to have performed so ably without them.

The result should give them a big boost for their match against Crystal palace next weekend but City will need to recover confidence before their opener against Newcastle.

Arsenal started the brighter and Mathieu Debuchy was particularly impressive down the right hand side in the opening exchanges.

Samir Nasri, the former Arsenal player, was verbally abused every time he touched the ball by Arsenal fans.

He almost silenced their jeers in the 13th minute but Calum Chambers was quick to block his goal-bound effort.

It was Arsenal, however, who deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute through Santi Cazorla.

The Spaniard evaded Gael Clichy on the edge of the City area before firing a low left footed strike into the corner of Caballero’s goal.

Yaya Sanogo, who scored four goals in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, had a chance to score his first competitive goal for Arsenal but dragged his shot wide.

It was Arsenal who continued to impress and Clichy deflected a long-range Cazorla shot for a corner.

Sanogo had another chance from the resulting corner but his header landed comfortably in Caballero’s arms.

City almost equalised five minutes before half time after Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic combined well during a quick break, but a swarm of Arsenal defenders managed to block.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey scored moments later, however, to double their advantage. Sanogo held up the ball well in the box and fed Ramsey who smashed the ball past Caballero.

Alexis Sanchez had an opportunity to make it three at the end of the first half but Caballero was quickly out of his area to slide at Alexis’ feet and deny him.

David Silva, Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud were introduced at half time for Nasri, Alexis, Laurent Koscielny and Sanogo.

Fernando was booked early in the second half for pulling Jack Wilshire to the ground.

Jovetic came agonisingly close moments later after rising over Debuchy to thump a header against the post.

City had begun the second half much brighter than the first and Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action to deny Jovetic, who fired a stinging shot towards the keeper’s right hand post.

James Milner and Bruno Zuculini were then introduced by Pellegrini to replace Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure.

Giroud scored an absolute screamer with his left foot from outside the area and bent it over Caballero to give Arsenal a three-goal advantage.

Jovetic, who was City’s most creative attacking force, attempted an elaborate overhead kick but it flew comfortably over the bar.

Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were then called upon by Wenger to replace Wilshire and Cazorla.

Micah Richards came on for Aleksandar Kolarov as substitutions began to disrupt the flow of the game.

Jesus Navas was also withdrawn for Scott Sinclair and Aaron Ramsey replaced by Joel Campbell; Arsene Wenger’s final substitution.

Dedryck Boyata had a great opportunity to grab a consolation for City but his header from a corner went wide.


Premier League Preview: Stoke City

There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Stoke City.

Stoke ended their 7 year relationship with Tony Pulis at the beginning of last season. Having established themselves as a Premier League club, their aim was to push up the table as far as possible. During Mark Hughes’s first season at the helm, they finished 10th and will be hoping to improve on that this time round.

The Manager

Mark Hughes has had an inconsistent managerial career in England’s top flight. With difficult spells in charge of moneymen Man City and QPR, scattered amongst impressive ones at Blackburn and Fulham, most Premier League fans don’t know what to make of “Sparky” as a manager.

Having inherited a notoriously sturdy and robust Stoke squad with a playing style labeled ‘unattractive’, amongst other things, Hughes has successfully implemented a more attractive playing style at the Britannia. By adding exciting players, such as Arnautovic, Assaidi and eventually Odemwingie, Hughes created an intriguing mix of physical strength alongside pacey, more technically gifted stars.

Mark Hughes has impressed Stoke fans thus far

Mark Hughes has impressed Stoke fans thus far

Biggest Signing

Stoke have already added Premier League experience to their ranks. Both Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell were standout performers last season for Sunderland and Fulham respectively. To get both on a free is somewhat of a coup for Hughes.In Mame Diouf they have a player who had a decent spell in the top flight with Blackburn Rovers, on loan from Man United, but has since proved himself abroad with Hannover 96, bagging almost a goal every two games for the Bundesliga outfit.

Their marquee signing, however, has to be Bojan Krkic. The former Barcelona man was once hailed as the next Lionel Messi and made over 100 appearances at Camp Nou between the ages of 17 and 20. Since then, Bojan has had three fairly average seasons on loan at Roma, A.C Milan and Ajax. The Spaniard insists that his lack of form is a result of being played too often on the right wing instead of in his favoured role as a striker. It will therefore be interesting to see how Mark Hughes deploys this ambitious signing. I am sure that we are all hoping to see a player who promises so much fulfill his potential for Stoke this season.

Bojan was once tipped for great things but has lost his way. Can he rediscover his best form at Stoke?

Bojan was once tipped for great things but has lost his way. Can he rediscover his best form at Stoke?

Who is tipped to join them?
Having seen wide-men Kightly, Etherington and Pennant depart from the Britannia, Mark Hughes will surely be looking to strengthen his options on both wings. Oussama Assaidi looks set to return permanently, after a good spell on loan last season, providing a fee can be met with Liverpool. Further to this, there is reported interest in Norwich’s young English prospect Nathan Redmond, who would surely be keen to join The Potters after suffering relegation last season.

Redmond is keen to make a quick return to the Premier League

Redmond is keen to make a quick return to the Premier League

Who should they sign?
Stoke fans must be delighted with their business so far; having signed a good balance of Premier League experience and exciting flair players, whilst retaining their key men from last season. With good strength in depth, there is only the aforementioned need for a couple of wingers to complete a strong-looking squad. Two players who could be available, either on loan or on the cheap, are Victor Moses and Scott Sinclair, both capable of contributing to Mark Hughes’s side.

Victor Moses would be a useful loan signing

Victor Moses would be a useful loan signing

Key Player
Apart from big name signing Bojan, who could prove a crucial figure for The Potters, Marko Arnautovic is a player who should have a big say in City’s fortunes this coming season. He found his feet very quickly in the Premier League and showed his pace, power and excellent technical ability in what was a very impressive debut campaign for the tall Austrian international. He was one of the key players in helping Mark Hughes achieve his goal of transforming the rugged Stoke of Tony Pulis’ era into a more aesthetically pleasing outfit. Expect to see this man continue to flourish next season as he links up with Stoke’s exciting new signings.

Arnautovic has settled well into life in the Premier League

Arnautovic has settled well into life in the Premier League

When a side achieves its highest ever league finish, there is always a worry that, from this position, the only way is down. Stoke fans, however, should have no such fears. With an ambitious manager making ambitious signings and with no key players set to leave, it appears that The Potters will continue into next season in much the same vein as the last, consolidating their place as a top-half team. I’m expecting Hughes’s men to go one better this year and grab themselves an 8th place finish.