After a two months break, the Premier League is set to make a return next weekend and what better way to kick things off than the traditional curtain raiser to the new 2017/2018 season, the Community Shield which sees London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal face each other come Sunday Afternoon at the Wembley stadium.
Chelsea feature in the shield by virtue of being league champions whilst Arsenal emerged as winners of the FA Cup. The Blues who have let go of certain key players from last season like John Terry, Nemanja Matic and with Diego Costa set for the exit doors will be keen to avenge their FA cup defeat in the hands of Sunday’s opponent in a game where they largely looked out of sorts, hung-over from their league celebrations and totally lacking desire. Although Chelsea emerged 3-nil victors when both sides met in a pre-season friendly in Beijing just last month, that wouldn’t count for much as both managers prepare for Sunday’s showdown.
Let’s be clear, even though the FA has vividly stated that the Community Shield is a friendly game, to the managers of both teams, it actually is a bit more and this is a game that either side will not be keen to lose, the game will be competitive and feisty and a win for either team will boost the confidence of the squad much than a pre-season game. For newly signed players like Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata, a first goal in the colors of his new team will be one that could define how well he settles into the new season.
Whilst Chelsea emerged as convincing champions last season and would be looking for a repeat of same, the Gunners endured a tumultuous season where they finished outside the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger and would be eager to remedy this.
Both sides have strengthened their ranks with the champions securing the services of Monaco’s Tiemoue Bagayoko who will be missing from the game with an injury, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata have also joined Antonio Conte’s men, whilst for Arsene Wenger, despite adding Alexandre Lacazette, who is the clubs most expensive signing and Bosnian defender Saed Kolasinac to their ranks, his major achievements this window has been keeping his major stars like Ozil and Sanchez despite several rumors linking them with a move away from the side.
Arsenal has won all their last eight matches at the Wembley, and the last time Chelsea won the Community Shield, they went on to win the league. The Community Shield which usually goes straight to penalty shoot-outs after ninety minutes will also witness the introduction of the new penalty system adopted by IFAB and approved by the English FA on trial basis, the ‘AB-BA’ system was proposed after a research that suggested that the existing ‘AB-AB’ system gave the first team an undue advantage and places immense pressure on the team playing second, with the new system expected to ensure fairness for both sides. All in all, it promises to be an exciting game and promises lots of goals.
CHELSEA: (3-5-2) Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Ngolo Kante, Willian, Michy Batshuayi, Alvaro Morata
Out: Hazard and Bagayoko (Injured), Diego Costa (Exiled)
Manager: Antonio Conte
ARSENAL: (3-5-2) Cech, Rob Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Chamberlain, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette
Out: Coquelin, Gabriel Paulista (Injured)
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Prediction: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2
***Pictures courtesy The Telegraph, Sky Sports, Independent,Scoopnest