Manchester City 1 Arsenal 3: Five talking points from friendly defeat
By Ric Turner, Mon 12 August 2013 10:16
City defeated in Helsinki in final pre-season game
1) It was only a friendly. As Vincent Kompany himself tweeted, the game was essentially "a fitness challenge... played on the back of our hardest week so far", and there is a danger in attaching too much significance to pre-season results. Indeed, an impressive pre-season by City is often followed by a disappointing league campaign, and vice-versa. We actually played quite well in parts against Arsenal, dominating possession for long spells and creating (and spurning) a number of reasonable chances.
2) The players will take time to adapt to Pellegrini's tactics. On the evidence so far, the Chilean prefers a pressing game with a high defensive line, but the players are clearly still getting used to the new system and we have look particularly susceptible to the long ball played over the top, as Arsenal ruthlessly demonstrated at times on Saturday. With Kolo Toure released and Matija Nastasic injured, it looks increasingly likely that we will be in the market for an experienced centre half before the transfer window closes.
3) Jesus Navas must start. Pellegrini experimented again with his line-up, as he seeks to establish his strongest starting XI ahead of next Monday's opener against Newcastle United. In the first half against Arsenal James Milner and David Silva were selected in the advanced midfield positions, but issues that cost us last season (namely a lack of pace and width) were again evident. Navas possesses these qualities in abundance.
4) Dzeko/Negredo partnership concerns. Both Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo have enjoyed fruitful pre-seasons, and the Spaniard added to his tally on Saturday, showing his strength by holding off Laurent Koscielny before finishing neatly between Fabianski's legs. However, there are signs that the two may not work as effectively in tandem, as they are a similar players in many respects and often occupy the same positions. Clearly Sergio Aguero will be first choice when fit, and it will most likely be either Dzeko or Negredo alongside him. However, in the Argentinian's absence it may be more productive to play Stefan Jovetic as a withdrawn striker behind either the Bosnian or the Spaniard.
5) Joe Hart lacking sharpness. Whilst perhaps not directly at fault for any of the goals conceded against Arsenal, the England goalkeeper seems to be lacking his usual sharpness, and will have been disappointed with the ease in which Aaron Ramsay rounded him for Arsenal's second goal. He is still unquestionably City's first choice goalkeeper, despite Costel Pantilimon impressing when called upon, but needs to rediscover the form that has seen him win three consecutive "golden glove" awards.