Arsenal got ready for the Premier League kick off with an impressive 3-1 victory over Man City in Helsinki this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger selected a line-up of: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski: with a bench consisting of: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Perez, Hayden, Zelalem, Cazorla, Giroud.
A week before the season starts and Arsenal have a 20 year old trialist on the bench, but it was the Gunners who went ahead in the 10th minute despite some early Man City pressure.
Theo Walcott got on the end of a fantastic Aaron Ramsey pass which dissected the City defence. The England winger took a touch and clipped it over Joe Hart to make it 1-0 to Arsenal.
James Milner thrashed a shot just over the Arsenal bar a few moments later, and Laurent Koscielny had to clear from almost off the line after Negredo beat Szczesny to a Zabaleta cross. He hooked the ball goalwards but Koscielny was on hand to avert the danger.
City were claiming a penalty when Kieran Gibbs blocked a low David Silva cross but nothing was given, before Arsenal broke forward through Jack Wilshere who played it wide to Bacary Sagna. The right back cut inside and lashed a left footed shot which Joe Hart touched onto the post and away to safety.
Vincent Kompany picked up a yellow card for challenge on Podolski, and in the 29th minute Wojciech Szczesny saved well with his feet after Dzeko found some space after a Yaya Toure pass and took a close range shot.
Negredo then created real danger, thrusting past Mertesacker, but not for the first time Koscielny was in the perfect position to snuff out the low cross, and the Gunners took the one goal lead into the half-time break.
For the second half, Lukasz Fabianski replaced Szczesny, Oliveri Giroud took the place of Lukas Podolski, and Santi Cazorla came on for Jack Wilshere, while chinless creep and former Arsenal man, $amir Na£ri got a run out for City.
The second Pole was quick off his line to deny Negredo after Toure played a ball between the two centre-halves which the Spaniard failed to control first time. And the former Sevilla man had another effort after good City build up, seeing his right footed shot go wide although Fabianski had it well covered.
Once again though, it was Arsenal who made the breakthrough, as Aaron Ramsey doubled the lead in the 60th minute. The Welshman started the move in midfield, played a one two with Theo Walcott with Cazorla letting it run past him on the way through, and the midfielder rounded Joe Hart and made it 2-0.
And within a minute it was 3-0. Theo Walcott played a brilliant diagonal ball right over Vincent Kompany, it fell for Giroud who controlled it and lobbed it over the onrushing Hart.
Arsenal then brought on Sebastien Perez in place of Mikel Arteta with the Colombian looking to impress Arsene Wenger as his trial continued, and only the offside flag denied Olivier Giroud his second of the game when he tucked away a Walcott cross.
Sagna and Oxlade-Chamberlain then made way for Carl Jenkinson and Gedion Zelalem, while the busy, but most ineffective, Negredo fired a low shot wide of the Arsenal goal.
But he got his goal in the 78th minute when he held off Koscielny and went through to slide the ball past Fabianski to make it 3-1. Youngster Perez picked up a yellow card for a foul on Jesus Navas, but from the resulting free kick Negredo hit the wall.
Arsenal lost quite a bit of fluency having made so many changes, and for such young, inexperienced players, but in the end saw the game out and more than deserved their win.
Overall, a very solid and promising performance from Arsene Wenger’s side. There’ll be some who will bemoan the fact that a win will make the Frenchman keep the chequebook closed but in the end the result should have no bearing on our need to strengthen the squad, something which is still obvious.
Still, in terms of build-up for Villa, it’s just what the doctor ordered.