Arsenal mounted an impressive comeback against Manchester City to win their 17th Community Shield on Sunday.
The Gunners were down 1-0 in the 77th minute when Cole Palmer found the top right corner to beat Aaron Ramsdale, giving City the lead. It seemed like Arsenal were on their way to a ninth-straight defeat to the Cityzens before Leandro Trossard found the net in the 101st minute to nod up the affair. The Gunners then went on to win the penalty shootout 4-1.
Whether you consider the Community Shield a big deal or not, what was a big deal was Arsenal finally defeating City stopping the eight-match win streak held over them. That is a big confidence booster heading into the season. Once Arsenal got into the game, it was evident that they could keep up with the treble winners and with better finishing in the final third, they could have been 2-0 up. What was also evident is that Arsenal’s £34m signing Jurrien Timber should already be considered as a regular in the starting XI when the season kicks off next week.
The best player on the pitch against Man City?
You can make an argument that if Timber wasn’t the best player for Arsenal on Sunday, he was certainly one of the best. Like most of the Arsenal players, it took a bit for Timber to get into the match, but once he did he showed a bit of what Gooners will enjoy.
For starters, defending Bernardo Silva is a job in itself. But Timber was up to the task. He displayed exceptional defensive position when City were in attack. Timber also displayed energy when joining the attack and discipline when City got back on the counter. Anytime there was a cross or shot that came his way on the left side, Timber was on it. When Arsenal was in their build-up or counter, Timber was in the mix.
He is physical!
When you get a chance to read up on the stature of Timber, it doesn’t match what you see on the field. The Dutchman is listed at six foot, but he certainly looks more physically imposing than his frame suggests on the pitch. Timber’s quads are massive and his upper body strength is underrated. When you see him against attackers, he does not look like he can be physically overtaken or bullied which was a bit of a problem down Arsenal’s left last season.
I’m not saying he’s technically better than Oleksandr Zinchencko or can cross the ball like Kieran Tierney, but he won’t get bullied if there is an overload on the left side.
Timber exits, Arsenal’s left-side timbers
A lot of City’s goal had to do with Thomas Partey overcommitting and getting absolutely rolled by Phil Foden. Foden strolled through the midfield and into the final third practically untouched. On the left side, Cole Palmer was the beneficiary of Foden’s fine dribble and scored City’s goal. The replay showed Tierney stumbling which gave Palmer plenty of space to get his shot off.
Timber had shown excellent positioning and discipline throughout the match. It’s almost certain, he would have defended the pass from Kevin De Bruyne to Palmer better or, at worst, not fallen over like Tierney did as Palmer got his shot off.
Timber can play anywhere in defence. If Arteta wants to keep the XI that he had going forward, Timber has already shown that he fits the position well. If Arteta wants to keep Zinchenko on the left, Timber can fill the role Zinchenko does on the right side and overload the midfield against teams. However, early on, Timber has shown himself to be a far superior defender than the Ukrainian.
The Dutchman looks to be one of the bargains of the summer.