BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 26: Nico Yennaris and Alex Song of Arsenal during a training session during the club's pre-season Asian tour at the Olympic Sports Centre on July 26, 2012 in Beijing, China.. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Due to the timing of this morning's match with Manchester City, and various commuting requirements and lack of access to the match, none of the writers for the Short Fuse were able to view today's match in full. Luckily for us, friend of the blog Sam Drew stepped in and wrote the match report for you, the readers (and for us too), and we're extremely grateful to him for that. If you don't know Sam, he runs his own blog, Chronicles of Almunia, and writes for Sabotage Times. He's on Twitter @chroniclesofal, and if you don't follow him, you should, unless you want to feel my wrath.
0-1 Zabaleta 41'
0-2 Toure 44'
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson (Eastmond 65'), Bartley (Miquel 45'), Vermaelen, Gibbs; Song (Eisfeld 77'), Arteta (Coquelin 45'); Walcott (Chamakh 45'), Diaby (Oxlade-Chamberlain 45'), Santos (Afobe 58'); Gervinho (Aneke 58')
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for comedy, I can tell you I don't have particularly humorous writing. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very short writing career. Skills that began with writing stories involving my class-mates which I then read out in front of my class. If you read my match report now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you (ed-I don't think he will. Still, you better read on).
Now that I've got my rather jaunty introduction over with, time for the actual match report part of this match report. Manchester City came up trumps at the Bird's Nest Stadium, with goals in quick succession from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure late in the first half giving the Blues a 2-0 victory.
While the score-line suggests that Manchester City were superior, the performance of Arsenal was actually quite encouraging. There were several impressive showings from players, but the final product wasn't quite there.
But first I suppose I'd better get the negatives out of the way. While it was only pre-season and there is a danger in reading too far into what you see, defensively Arsenal were quite suspect. Carl Jenkinson was caught out a few times, most notably for both of the goals - City broke through twice down the left to score, and each time Jenkinson had been caught wandering out of position.
The defending overall, not just Jenkinson's positioning, was a bit hap-hazard; both times City were able to get into Arsenal's box and both times they were able to score. Some of the defenders didn't seem to know what they were doing, and City managed to profit from this chaos thanks to some clinical finishing.
The main negative from the match was Arsenal's rather confused defending at points - in the first half mainly, while in the second half there was some improvement. As always the Gunners' defence mechanism was possession, rather than actually solid defending. Still, Arsenal are only half-way through pre-season, so best not to panic and set fire to your hair just yet.
Alex Song was also rather sloppy in the first half, and as well as his way-ward passing, he offered little protection to the back four when it was needed. There's still an issue of defensive responsibility in the midfield trio; with such a fluid triumvirate, there are quite a few times where none of them hold their position and show a slice of defensive discipline.
Onto the positives (Piers Morgan, ctrl+w now), of which there were quite a few. As said earlier there were some impressive individual performances; Gervinho looked lively and dangerous, even if there was little end product; Chuks Aneke impressed with a cameo from the bench; Abou Diaby looked full of purpose and guile.
Furthermore there was Ignasi Miquel, who made several excellent tackles, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who threatened several times from distance. That was one of the surprising things about Arsenal - the amount of long shots attempted. Theo Walcott, Jenkinson, Andre Santos and Chamberlain all let fly from range.
However, it's quite a common trait of pre-season friendlies. Teams are usually quite lax with their closing down, so it's a good opportunity to have a pop from far out. Furthermore, the manager wouldn't be too annoyed if/when it flies miles over the bar.
In the end, City created the more clear-cut chances while Arsenal were restricted to the lion's share of possession and some half-chances (perhaps three-quarter chances is a more fair description), none of which they were able to take. Still, there were plenty of encouraging signs, so Arsène Wenger will take heart from a lot of what he saw.