The game may have meant little and told us nothing about the season to come, but Arsenal have started the campaign in dazzling style by winning the Community Shield, beating Chelsea on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in normal time.
Goals from Victor Moses and an equaliser from Arsenal substitute Sead Kolasinac meant the teams ended the 90 minutes level in a match from which few conclusions can be drawn. Arsenal were the better side overall, but in this game last season, Ahmed Musa looked like a terrific signing for Leicester City and Juan Mata threw a minor tantrum. In short, this isn’t generally a fixture with which you can make judgements about the campaign ahead.
A new season is supposed to bring new beginnings, fresh ideas and exciting additions, but there was only one summer arrival in the two teams as Arsenal’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette started up front.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were not deemed ready for what amounts to a fancy preseason sharpener, Kolasinac was surprisingly left on the bench, the same place reserved for Chelsea new boys Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger. Therefore, both teams had a comforting familiarity to them in the August sun.
Arsenal certainly started looking much the brighter team, with their attacks showing the purpose that Chelsea’s lacked. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck both caused problems with their runs from behind Lacazette, and it was the Frenchman who went closest in the opening half an hour, curling a shot onto the post after a brilliant counter-attack.
There were few other clear-cut chances in the first-half: The only significant points of interest in a predictably and understandably scrappy encounter were Willian’s booking for diving in the penalty area and Per Mertesacker being forced to leave the field after a stray and unintentional Gary Cahill elbow opened a nasty cut on his forehead. He was replaced by the vast Kolasinac, a wall of muscle in a football shirt who, if nothing else, looks like he will add some extra physicality to Arsenal.
Then with 10 minutes remaining, Pedro joined the slightly curious club of players who have managed to get themselves sent off in this game, perhaps harshly on this occasion as referee Robert Madeley deemed a studs-up but hardly malicious foul on Mohamed Elneny to be worthy of a red card. Chelsea were doubly punished as from the resultant free-kick, an unmarked Kolasnic rose to guide a header inside the far post and put Arsenal level, something they probably deserved.
With no extra-time penalties ensued and for some reason, Conte selected Courtois to take their second effort: the gamble didn’t work as he blazed his effort over. That said, there’s no guarantee that a forward will be more reliable as Morata demonstrated by dragging the next kick wide. Giroud stepped up, slotted his penalty home and Arsenal claimed their seventh Community Shield of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.