• Pre-season friendly

Arsenal defence exposed in friendly loss to Man City

ESPN staff
July 27, 2012

All of the trademark Arsenal concerns were evident as they defended poorly in Friday's 2-0 friendly defeat to Manchester City in Beijing.

Indecisive at times in attack without wantaway striker Robin van Persie, the Gunners were shambolic in defence, and they were punished by the Premier League champions. Goals from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure handed City a 2-0 win, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain going closest for Arsenal with two long-range bullets.

In fairness to Arsene Wenger, his back four was made up of youngsters Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Kyle Bartley, alongside skipper Thomas Vermaelen. However, the full-back positions have long been an issue for Arsenal, and they were exploited brutally by City.

Both teams fielded a sprinkling of stars, with Theo Walcott and Gervinho in attack for the Gunners, while Toure, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero started for City. The result was an entertaining opening 45 minutes in which both sides could have helped themselves.

Arsenal were lucky inside two minutes when Jenkinson played Aguero onside, only for the linesman to incorrectly raise his flag. Tevez then shot tamely from Toure's cutback as City were first to settle.

Wenger's side had the greater pace in attack but lacked the guile possessed by Van Persie, with Walcott and Gervinho both making searing runs before picking the wrong option. Gervinho's error was particularly glaring, ignoring Andre Santos who stood in acres right in front of goal.

Jenkinson, found wanting in defence, showed plenty going forward, twice lashing fearsome drives at the City goal. At the other end he also recovered from a poor position to make a last-ditch block on Aguero who had been played clean through by Tevez.

Walcott and Santos both went close with long-rangers as Arsenal enjoyed plenty of possession, but it was City who struck twice in a three-minute period right before half-time.

Zabaleta opened the scoring, crashing a right-footed shot into the far corner after link-up play between Tevez and Nir Biton had allowed Toure to set up the chance, the Ivorian's glorious first touch allowing the ball to run across his body. Toure, the best player on the pitch, then got his name on the scoresheet, poking home from close range after Aguero had stabbed Aleksandar Kolarov's cross towards goal.

Wenger threw on Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marouane Chamakh among four half-time changes, and the latter immediately set up a gilt-edged chance for Gervinho, who took too many touches before digging a shot out of his feet and into the chest of Costel Pantilimon.

Next it was the turn of Oxlade-Chamberlain to announce his arrival, crashing a 25-yarder that hit one post, flashed across the line and clipped the other before rebounding into play.

City showed less attacking endeavour in the second period, but they should have had a third when Tevez twice launched two-on-two counters involving Aguero. On the first occasion the former Manchester United man got his pass all wrong, but he laid the second on a plate for Aguero, whose cheeky dink dropped the wrong side of an upright.

Arsenal deserved a goal for their attacking efforts by full-time, but they remained scoreless despite flashing a series of shots across Pantilimon's charmed goal.

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