10 August 2014 19:23
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini conceded his team were off the pace as Arsenal stormed to a 3-0 Community Shield win on Sunday.
The Premier League champions endured relentless pressure from a vibrant Arsenal side during the first half at Wembley and Arsene Wenger’s men were duly rewarded by goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey.
David Silva’s half-time introduction gave City fresh impetus as Stevan Jovetic headed against the post before Olivier Giroud’s dipping strike from 25 yards settled matters
Pellegrini told BT Sport: “During the first 45 minutes, Arsenal scored two goals. We improved in the second half, we had chances to score but they had a chance and scored from it.
“These things happen before the season starts.
“It was not the pace we played in pre-season but I will talk with the players and I am sure we will be ready to start the Premier League.
“I think in the Premier League you have five or six teams who can win the league because all have a strong squad. We must demonstrate from the beginning why we won the title last year.”
Without captain Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and new signing Bacary Sagna due to the quartet’s late return from World Cup commitments, City’s make-shift defence endured a torrid afternoon.
It is an area of his squad that Pellegrini hopes to strengthen over the coming days with the signing of centre-back Eliaquim Mangala from Porto – a transfer saga that has dragged on throughout the close-season, with complications surrounding the player’s current third-party ownership status understood to be the sticking point.
Nevertheless, the City boss is hopeful the France international Mangala can be in place by the time his players begin their quest for a third Premier League title in four seasons at Newcastle United next weekend.
He said: “Some papers are maybe missing but we continue having interest in the player, he wants to come so we will see what happens in the week.”
In Kompany’s absence, Yaya Toure took the armband for City – returning to competitive action following a close-season during which his future in Manchester was thrown into doubt by bizarre revelations from the player and his agent expressing unhappiness with how the club marked his 31st birthday.
Toure – who also suffered the tragic loss of his younger Ibrahim to cancer in June – was a goalscorer when City lifted the Community Shield with a 3-2 win over Chelsea in 2012 and he pointed to their subsequently lacklustre title defence as a reason not to read too much into Sunday’s result.
“It’s quite difficult because we don’t have all the lads back from the World Cup but it’s [good for] the fitness for the beginning of the season,” he told City’s official website.
“Last time we won the Community Shield and after we lost the Premier League. This year the target is the Premier League and the Champions League and to try and do as well as possible.
“We need to work hard and bounce back against Newcastle because it’s going to be a very, very important game.”
“It was a good game at the end. Arsenal are a good team as well and it was a good test for us. We need to move on and be focused for the next game that’s coming.”