Published on The Arsenal Review.
Arsenal came from behind to defeat Chelsea on penalties and win the 2017 Community Shield.
Whilst some denounce the Community Shield as nothing more than just another friendly, there are some reasons that unfolded on the pitch to suggest Arsenal can be quietly confident this coming season.
Arsene Wenger was unable to call on leading lights Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil, as well as Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny, so his selected eleven was a weaker one than he would have preferred.
Alex Iwobi came into the team and Danny Welbeck was in the attacking three also. Per Mertesacker came into the team to once again haunt Chelsea, with Mohamed Elneny taking Rambo’s midfield spot.
Antonio Conte had the luxury of a nearly complete squad, with only Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko missing. It meant Chelsea went into the game as favourites, but just like the FA Cup Final – Arsenal paid no heed to their underdog tag.
The Gunners were faster out of the blocks, with Alexandre Lacazette looking in good touch and Hector Bellerin getting forward to great effect.
It would be Lacazette who would have the best chance too, linking up well with Bellerin before curling an effort onto the post with Courtois beaten.
Before that, Gary Cahill smashed his elbow into the nose of Per Mertesacker, forcing the German off with blood pouring from the wound. On came new boy Sead Kolasinac, and the Bosnian would make a big difference.
Chelsea did have one opportunity, and one they claimed should have been a penalty. William went down and referee Bobby Maddely booked the Brazilian for simulation. Upon close inspection, it could have gone either way as there was contact, but Willian did make the most of it.
Half time came and went and it was Chelsea who started the better in the second half, and Victor Moses broke the deadlock.
The Nigerian, the villain of the FA Cup Final in May, chested down a header from Cahill and slotted past Cech.
The Blues started to gain confidence, but the ten minutes of pressure after the goal they exerted came to nothing.
It would cost them dearly.
Granit Xhaka stretched Courtois with a ferocious long range strike, but Gooners had to wait until the 82nd minute for the equaliser their team deserved.
The 80th minute saw Pedro plant his studs on the Achilles of Elneny, and the Spaniard was sent off. The resultant set-piece saw Xhaka float in a tantalising ball which Sead Kolasinac met and he headed into the far corner.
There would be no extra time, so penalties were the order of the day. This would be the first fixture where the order of the takers would switch to the new ‘ABBA’ format. The reason? 60% of the sides who took the first penalty in the old format would win.
So, history was made, and Arsenal again were successful in a shootout, with Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missing their efforts and Arsenal converting all of theirs.
The Shield was won, and again they had won a trophy with holes in their side. It was the display which pleased most of us though. Tough but swift in attack at times, Arsenal look well equipped for the coming season.
This may or may not constitute a trophy, but it is definitely a great start.