Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City: Message Sent

I was half-tempted to have the entire body of this match report simply read:  " :) ". You loyal readers deserve better than that, of course, but the urge was there all the same. You know, it's funny to me how the same people who would have wittered on for ages about the "same old Arsenal" had this scoreline been reversed are the very same ones that immediately are pointing out that "it's just preseason".

You know what? It's not. It's just bloody not.

Photo: Reuters

Psychology matters in this game. Teams that believe in their heart and in their soul that they're going to win tend to do so. We've seen the reverse of this for far too long, with Arsenal succumbing to the other big teams in a shroud of self-perpetuating gloom. The moves that Arsene and the transfer team have made in this offseason have lifted much of that gloom, and the extra something that talents like Alexis Sanchez give us have allowed us to play these games with the freedom that our talent should always have allowed.

Meanwhile, many of the reports around this one have gone to great pains to call this an "under-strength" City team. Oh, really? This is who they started: Caballero, Clichy, Boyata, Nastasjic, Kolarov, Navas, Fernando, Toure, Nasri, Jovetic, Dzeko. The ONLY guy among that lot who won't get a ton of games this season for them is Boyata.. That's it. End of list. So, to say that City were under-strength is to take away from what was an astonishingly-great 25 minutes at the end of the first a half, a period of time that saw Arsenal effectively end the game as a contest.

As for the opening 20 minutes of the half, I wish I could tell you all about it - unfortunately, the MTA did its thing again and I was thus unable to catch it. I'm told I missed absolutely nothing, and wasn't it nice of the side to wait until I got into the pub to open the scoring? I may have had three sips of my Magners before Willy Caballero was picking the ball out of his net. Admittedly I didn't catch the build-up in the play, but I did see Santi Cazorla torment young Boyata with some excellent hold-up play before shifting to the side and drilling an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

Arsenal's tails were up, and frankly they monstered City for the rest of the half. Alexis Sanchez ran the show down the right wing, his dribbling and passing mesmerizing at every turn. Mathieu Debuchy and Callum Chambers both looked rock-solid in defense, while Jack Wilshere had his best match in ages.

Just wait until the boys get used to playing with one another.

City improved as the half went along, because how could they not? That just meant that Arsenal had more room to counter, and sure enough it was soon 2-0. Yaya Sanogo collected a long ball well, and used his strength to hold off Boyata. Help soon arrived in the form of Aaron Ramsey, and the Welsh Jesus coolly slotted past Caballero to double the lead.

The slick attacking prowess exhibited from the Arsenal got disrupted somewhat by the raft of substitutions, both sides clearly keeping one eye on next week's season opener. City did a little better, and forced a couple of excellent saves out of Wojciech Szczesny. That kept it at 2-0 long enough for Olivier Giroud to add some gloss to the scoreline with a ridiculous long-range tracer that left Caballero with a snowball's chance.

That was our lot, really. A fun little run-out with a 2/3rds-strength team against opponents that were about the same, though the result should prove to be a massive psychological benefit. This is a pretty damn good team we have here, and I think this is going to be a hell of a run ride this season.

No ratings or anything this week - insert jokes about me being in preseason form as well here. Normal service next week.

Anyway, if I were Tony Pulis, I'd be quaking in my baseball cap right about now.