Arsenal pipped Manchester City by 3 goals to 2 in Gothenburg as both managers continued to build their players’ fitness ahead of the season.
Arsene Wenger’s boys put in another great performance in pre-season as they narrowly beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by a scoreline of 3-2 thanks to goals from Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Chuba Akpom. The Gunners went behind in the first half owing to an Aguero goal. At half-time, they were trailing City 1-0 but completed a brilliant comeback in the second half to lead 3-1. Kelechi Iheanacho brought one back for the Citizens but Arsenal held on for a narrow victory. Below are some of the talking points of the game.
1. Iheanacho deserves more game time this season
The Nigerian youngster was prolific last season in the minutes he was given, ending the season with 14 goals to his name in all competitions. The 19-year-old has continued to impress Manchester City fans and has shown his talent to the new manager Pep Guardiola. Iheanacho was brought on by the Spaniard with only 22 minutes remaining and the Nigerian did not disappoint the former Bayern Munich manager as he managed to get on the score-sheet for City. The forward may just score his way into the Spaniard’s first-team plans at Etihad and become a core part of the manager’s revolution in the blue side of Manchester.
2. A fit Aguero can run rampant in the league
One of Pep Guardiola’s main aims would be to ramp up the fitness levels of Sergio Aguero and reduce the number of injury troubles for the 28-year-old. Without the injuries, the striker is arguably the best finisher of the ball in the Premier League at this moment. Aguero finished last season with 24 goals despite missing a few games due to injuries. The Argentine seems to be in good shape as he opened the score in the match while also being a constant threat to the Arsenal defence during his time on the pitch. A fit Aguero might just be the difference between challenging for the title and winning it, something Pep Guardiola would be aware of.
3. Youngsters Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom are starting to step up and shine
Iwobi and Akpom both got on the score-sheet in the narrow 3-2 win over Manchester City. It looks like the two youngsters are determined to convince Wenger to play them instead of opting to sign a new forward. Chuba Akpom has been their top goalscorer of the pre-season with 4 goals to his name while Alex Iwobi isn’t far behind with 3 goals. The duo has looked sharp and keen to run at the defence while also not being terrified or nervous by the quality of the opposition.
4. Delph and Sterling impress but Joe Hart seems to be struggling
Pep Guardiola chose to start Raheem Sterling on the right-side in the last two pre-season matches, a move which has seemed to have paid off immediately as the former Liverpool player is starting to look more like his usual self going forward. The winger created the goal for Aguero and many more opportunities for his teammates, which were sadly not converted into goals.
Fabian Delph has struggled ever since joining the Citizens from Aston Villa but has taken to Pep Guardiola’s tactics like fish to water. The English midfielder looks like a new player altogether as he has put in tireless shifts at the centre of the field. Pep Guardiola’s appointment might just be the turning point in the former Aston Villa captain’s City career.
Speaking of turning points in players’ careers, Joe Hart faces a similar fate, albeit in the opposite direction. Pep Guardiola has reportedly identified Joe Hart as a weak link and aims to find a replacement for the English international in order to be fully able to apply his tactics at Etihad. Even though Hart was not at fault for any of the three goals, the goalkeeper was found wanting in two of them with fans and pundits alike feeling like he could’ve done far better in those situations. The former Barcelona manager chose to start Willy Caballero instead of him and his performance in today’s match might just have sealed his City fate under Pep Guardiola.
5. Gabriel Paulista adds fresh salt to Arsenal’s deep defensive wounds
Arsenal’s defence has been riddled with injuries in pre-season. Koscielny has returned but is likely to be unfit to start against Liverpool in the season opener while Per Mertesacker has been sidelined with a long-term injury. Gabriel Paulista suffered a bad knock on his leg and was stretchered off in the dying moments of the game, adding to the list of central defenders that are unavailable for selection against Liverpool. This leaves Wenger with new signing Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, and the French manager might have to delve into the transfer window to find a cover for the injured players.