Another English football season is here (Thank God); it is a small matter of the annual curtain raiser as Champions Chelsea take on FA Cup winners Arsenal in the community shield at Wembley. Amazingly, Chelsea became league champions by a wide margin from Arsenal while Arsenal battered Chelsea in May to win the FA Cup. This promises to be a keenly contested affair although it is classified as a friendly and not a trophy (Except when it is won by Manchester United).
- The Community Shield will be a repeat of the previous season’s FA Cup final for the first time since 2007, when Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties having lost to them 1-0 after extra-time in the cup final three months earlier
- The FA Cup winners have never gone on to beat the same opponent in the following season’s Community Shield
- The FA Cup winners have won each of the last three Community Shields. The cup holders had been victorious in only one of the seven Community Shields prior to this run (Chelsea in 2009)
- This will be the third Community Shield between Chelsea and Arsenal – with the Blues winning in 2005 and the Gunners in 2015
- Only Manchester United (nine) have been Community Shield runners-up more times than Chelsea and Arsenal (both seven)
- Arsenal v Chelsea will equal Chelsea v Tottenham and Chelsea v Manchester United (both four) as the most played fixture at the new Wembley Stadium
- The last Community Shield winners to go on to win the Premier League in the same season were Manchester United in 2010
- This will be Chelsea’s 12th Community Shield appearance. Only Manchester United (30), Arsenal (22, including 2017) and Liverpool (21) have made more (Manchester United have played 31 Community Shield matches as the 1908 edition went to a replay)
- Chelsea have won the Community Shield four times (all outright) – 1955, 2000, 2005 and 2009. Their victories in 1955 and 2005 came as league champions.
- Chelsea have lost their last three Community Shield matches – in 2010 against Manchester United, in 2012 versus Manchester City and in 2015 against Arsenal
- This will be Chelsea’s 17th match at Wembley Stadium since it reopened in 2007, an outright record for a club (Manchester United are next, with 16 appearances). They have been victorious in 10 of their 16 appearances at the stadium since it was rebuilt (including one penalty shootout triumph)
- Only Manchester United (21, 17 outright and four shared) and Liverpool (15, 10 outright and five shared) have won the Community Shield more times than Arsenal (14 – 13 outright and one shared)
- Arsenal lost their first two matches at the new Wembley Stadium, but have been victorious on all eight visits since (including one penalty shootout triumph)
- Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla are the only current members of the Arsenal squad to play in both their Community Shield wins in 2014 and 2015
- Alexis Sanchez has won all six of his matches at Wembley Stadium for Arsenal and Chile, scoring seven goals. He has failed to score in only one of those games – the 3-0 victory against Manchester City in the 2014 Community Shield.
(Stats Courtesy: BBC)
Both teams have had a fairly impressive transfer window so far with Chelsea spending almost 150 million pounds to bring in Antonio Rudiger from Roma, Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and new record signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid. They also signed Willy Caballero from Manchester City as back up goalkeeper. However, they have lost Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and Diego Costa is surprisingly surplus to requirement. Club legend and captain John Terry has left the club to join Aston Villa. Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez are out with injury.
Arsenal have so far signed the Bosnian Hulk Sead Kolasinac and also broke the transfer record to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. There remain some more transfer activity to be done and the urgency will be tested with this game.
LIKELY LINE UPS
Chelsea: 3-4-3 – Courtois, Victor Moses, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c), Alonso, Kante, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Willian, Morata.
Arsenal: 3-4-2-1: Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Holding, Koscielny (c), Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Lacazette.
The last time Arsenal met Chelsea in the community shield was 2 years ago when an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain screamer gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory in what was Arsene Wenger’s first victory over then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Wembley has been sort of a fortress for Arsenal and we have won our last 7 games there beating both Manchester City and Chelsea twice each. I believe Chelsea won’t be the same team without the aggression of Diego Costa and the trickery of Eden Hazard. Morata is not yet fully fit.
While Arsenal have not added much players, the core of the team remain intact with Alexis Sanchez looking more likely to stay and play out the final year of his contract. He will start the game as a way of building fitness towards the league opener against Leicester City. Lacazette will be hoping to make a good impression as he makes his debut and Kolasinac is one player to watch out for.
Overall, I think Arsenal have a great recent record at Wembley and while i expect Chelsea to want to revenge the FA Cup final defeat last may, I think Arsenal will win 3-1.