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Arsenal’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (left), punches the ball as Manchester City’s Micah Richards (centre left), heads the ball during the English FA Community Shield soccer match at Wembley Stadium, London, on Aug 10. (AP)
Wembley win sets tone for Arsenal ‘Positive platform’

LONDON, Aug 11, (AFP): Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger felt his side had established a benchmark for their season after a convincing 3-0 win over Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield. Substitute Olivier Giroud capped a one-sided victory with a brilliant 25-yard strike on the hour mark at Wembley on Sunday, after first-half goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey had put Arsenal in control. Arsenal’s league title bid last season was fatally undermined by losses to their biggest rivals — including a 6-3 humbling at City — and Wenger is hopeful that the FA Cup winners have now turned a corner.

“To win today gives us a positive platform to prepare,” the Frenchman told his post-game media conference. “You want to win the game and you want to look at the quality of the performance as well. “It was important for our confidence to win the game, but it was even more important to have a big part in the game with the quality. “And that is a comfort for me to see that we can produce the kind of quality that we have produced for some long patches in the game.”

 
Reminded of his team’s poor record against their title rivals last season, he replied: “That’s why it was important for us today (Sunday) not to lose the game. “Last year we were very consistent against the teams below the top six and not consistent against the top six teams. The year before it was the reverse. So let’s hope that this year it will be right on both sides.” Wenger was particularly pleased by the performances of new signings Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez.
 
He said that 19-year-old Chambers, who again played at centre-back, had been “outstanding” and described Debuchy’s display as “excellent”, while he felt that Sanchez had been “always a danger”. Wenger also revealed that Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta has succeeded Thomas Vermaelen as club captain following the Belgian defender’s move to Barcelona, with Per Mertesacker named vice-captain. Vermaelen’s departure leaves Arsenal light at centre-back, with Laurent Koscielny the only other established central defender on the club’s books. But while Wenger admitted that he would like to bring in another defender, he added: “To find another one of (Vermaelen’s) quality will not be easy.”
 
The pain of defeat for City was softened by the fact that they were without several key first-team players, including captain Vincent Kompany, right-back Pablo Zabaleta and striker Sergio Aguero. “It was not the day today to make pressure for different players. It was one game more for pre-season,” said manager Manuel Pellegrini. “We have seven players who have just worked for five days. They were not considered for this game. We have another five players who have just worked for eight or nine days. “It’s difficult to be ready in two weeks. Aguero, Zabaleta, (Martin) Demichelis, Kompany, (Bacary) Sagna, Fernandino just arrived seven days ago. They started working on Monday.
 
“They will have 15 days before we start the Premier League so we’ll see during the week which of them are ready and which of them are not ready. “It is always bad to lose, but we don’t need to worry.” City open their league title defence at Newcastle United on Sunday and Pellegrini refused to confirm that England goalkeeper Joe Hart will come back into the team after new signing Willy Caballero played against Arsenal. “All the 22 players that we have in our squad must demonstrate who is number one in all the positions,” said the Chilean. “The goalkeeper and the other positions of the team are exactly the same. Joe finished last season playing very well. We’ll see next Sunday which 11 starts against Newcastle.”

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