LONDON – Arsenal prepared for the Premier League season by collecting the Community Shield with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday, picking up where the team left off at the F.A. Cup final by adding another piece of silverware at Wembley.
Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, who both scored in the F.A. Cup triumph that ended Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought in May, also netted against City with well-taken first-half strikes.
A makeshift City was a shadow of the team that won the Premier League for the second time in three years in May. Olivier Giroud added to City’s discomfort by scoring with a dipping strike on the hour in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season between the Premier League and F.A. Cup champions.
“This gives us a positive platform to prepare,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “Last year we were very consistent against the teams outside the top six and not consistent against the top six teams.”
Arsenal, which finished fourth after leading for much of last season, opens against Crystal Palace on Saturday as it looks to win the Premier League title for the first time since the 2004 campaign.
Winning the Shield might set the tone for the opening weeks of the season, but is likely to be forgotten quickly. For David Moyes, it counted for nothing that his brief and unsuccessful Manchester United reign began by lifting the trophy here a year ago.
Perhaps most surprisingly, England goalkeeper Joe Hart was on the bench as new signing Willy Caballero was preferred in goal. But Hart, who was dropped during last season and successfully fought to regain his City place, saw the recruit from Malaga concede three times.
At the first match at Wembley since England’s pre-World Cup friendly against Peru in May, the shortage of Englishmen at top clubs was exposed again. With Hart dropped, City’s starting lineup lacked a single Englishman.
“I don’t see what nationalities the players are,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “I use the players who I think are the best players to win that game. It doesn’t matter if they are England players.”
Arsenal had a core of three, including new signing Calum Chambers, who was assured in central defense.
Just like in the F.A. Cup final win against Hull, Cazorla scored Arsenal’s first goal. Jack Wilshere and Yaya Sanogo combined before the ball broke for Cazorla to strike low into the net in the 21st minute.
Sanogo dragged a shot wide and had a header collected by Caballero before helping ensure that Arsenal’s cushion was doubled before halftime. Completing a swift break, the French forward held off Dedryck Boyata before passing for Ramsey to neatly stab the ball in the 42nd.
“We passed the ball around very quickly and looked a threat every time,” said Mikel Arteta, who has assumed the captaincy from Thomas Vermaelen after the defender joined Barcelona. “We’ve got pace up front now and it makes a big difference.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5