Gunners sweep past United
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsenal gained a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the Community Shield.Arsenal picked up where they left off from last season with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over old rivals Manchester United in the Community Shield at The Millennium Stadium.
All the goals arrived in the second half in Cardiff as Gilberto Silva set The Gunners on their way prior to Alan Smith capping his competitive United bow with the equaliser.
That merely spurred Arsenal back in to the ascendancy as the impressive Jose Antonio Reyes put his team back ahead and Mikael Silvestre's own goal completed the scoring.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger surprisingly selected Thierry Henry from the start and the French flyer did not display any obvious signs of lacking recent match practice.
United captain Roy Keane was the first player to have a glimpse of goal as he sliced a shot off target but the opening exchanges belonged to the Premiership champions.
Henry was at full stretch to tamely divert Jermaine Pennant's cross in to Tim Howard's arms and he then turned provider with an incisive pass for Dennis Bergkamp, which the stand-in skipper lobbed over the goal.
The Dutch master then forced Howard in to a sprawling save to grasp his rasping shot while the American keeper later tipped over Henry's free kick.
In between, Pascal Cygan proved himself an able replacement for the injured Sol Campbell with an excellent last-ditch tackle on Ryan Giggs following a magnificent pass from Paul Scholes.
Another cross from the right by Pennant just eluded Reyes while Bergkamp tripped up on the edge of the penalty area as he homed in on goal, looking certain to put The Gunners in front.
Pennant, who was a constant threat on the right flank, then fluffed a fine opportunity to put Arsenal in to the lead after clever work from Henry.
The Frenchman turned sharply in the box and Howard could only parry his shot but, with the keeper stranded, Pennant scuffed his shot wide of the target as Quinton Fortune sought to protect the goal.
It was only in the closing ten minutes of the first half that United sprang in to life with the tireless Smith lashing over and then delivering a neat cross to the far post for Gary Neville, whose firm header was palmed over by Jens Lehmann.
Smith then cut in from the right touchline to drill a low shot which Lehmann comfortably saved and, in injury time, the German was pressed in to slightly more arduous action to beat away a Scholes piledriver.
Henry was replaced at the interval by debutant Robin van Persie but it was another Arsenal youngster - Reyes - who contrived to miss the best chance of the game early in the second half.
The Spanish starlet displayed tremendous skill to glide past Silvestre and then leave Howard on the turf but, with the goal gaping, Reyes somehow put his shot in to the side-netting.
Within 60 seconds, though, Reyes had atoned for his glaring miss by latching on to a defence-splitting pass from Bergkamp and unselfishly rolling the ball across for Gilberto to finish in to an empty net.
That signalled a flurry of changes from United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as he rested Keane and Giggs ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League qualifier with Dinamo Bucharest.
Van Persie, set up by compatriot and the influential Bergkamp, headed a good chance wide on 55 minutes but United were suddenly on level terms.
Kolo Toure's attempted clearance ricocheted off Smith, who crowned his debut with a stunning volley from the edge of the area which arrowed inside the post, although there was a hint of offside as David Bellion appeared to be interfering with play.
But before the hour mark, Arsenal were back in front with Bergkamp and Gilberto combining for Reyes to come full circle and gratefully accept the chance to put his team in front.
Jeremie Aliadiere replaced Bergkamp just past the hour but lasted only seven minutes before being stretchered off while Ferguson withdrew Smith and Scholes from the fray as Eric Djemba-Djemba and Ashley Cole had a little set-to.
Just over ten minutes from time, Arsenal added further gloss to the scoreline by scoring a third in fortuitous fashion. Cole capitalised on some sloppy defending and his attempted pass to a team-mate deflected off Silvestre and beyond a helpless Howard.
For Arsenal, the signs of another successful season look ominous but The Red Devils, with a crucial European game in midweek, are clearly aching for the leadership of Rio Ferdinand after a shoddy display of defending in South Wales.
Click below for a match summary:
Arsenal v Man Utd