Wenger upbeat after Shield win

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iol spt aug11 Arsenal-Shield

London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gave the impression of a man who cannot wait for the new season to begin after praising his side following their 3-0 demolition of Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield on Sunday.

“It was a complete performance in the first half, we defended well and kept the spirit and organisation in the second half and the win today provides a very positive platform to prepare from,” Wenger told reporters.

“Now we have to start well against Crystal Palace at home in the league and that won't be easy, that's a London derby and it will be a different type of game.”

The Community Shield is not the most important trophy in English football but securing it 85 days after winning the FA Cup, which ended a nine-year trophy drought, brought a smile to Wenger's face.

“I'd like to win a trophy every week,” he beamed. “But it was very important to win today.

“You not only want to win the game and take the trophy but you want a good performance and we produced quality for long spells today.”

He also singled out 19-year-old defender Calum Chambers for special praise, saying that the teenager he has just signed from Southampton gave “an outstanding performance” and would challenge Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for a central defensive place following the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona.

“For a 19-year-old who does not have a long history in that position, he was outstanding. He can challenge both centre backs, play at right back or in midfield. Even if Thomas did not leave I would have bought him anyway.”

Vermaelen's departure means Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is the new club skipper with Wenger saying Mertesacker will be vice-captain.

Wenger has come under pressure from many Arsenal fans over the last few seasons as the trophies dried up but the FA Cup final win and his team's performance on Sunday appears to have rejuvenated the 64-year-old Frenchman, who will mark 18 years as Arsenal manager in October.

One reason is that he now feels he is close to having enough quality in attack to launch a real challenge for the Premier League title Arsenal last won in 2004.

“With Alexis Sanchez coming, we have more attacking options than we have had for a long time.”

Although Chile's Sanchez, who made his debut for Arsenal after his 35 million pounds ($58.71 million) move from Barcelona, did not score, he showed some clever touches in the opening half.

Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and substitute Olivier Giroud scored the goals that beat City, who looked a poor second to the Gunners for most of the match.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini thought they played the game “with two faces” having a poor first half but a better second, and although he said he was upset to lose, he did not think the performance would be relevant to next Sunday's first league match at Newcastle United.

“We hade seven players not yet ready after the World Cup for today, but by next week they would have been training for 15 days. We didn't play with a good pace in the first half and let Arsenal score two goals, but we have important players still missing.”

One important player who was sitting on the bench at Wembley was England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who watched debutant Willy Caballero, bought for six million pounds from Pellegrini's former club Malaga, get beaten three times.

Asked if Hart was still his No.1 choice, Pellegrini said: “Every player in the squad has to fight for their place. Next week I will decide who plays against Newcastle.” – Reuters


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