Arsenal’s Community Shield deserved win over Chelsea should mean very little beyond the bragging rights of beating a close rival at Wembley, but there were still immense positives to take from the performance and result ahead of the new season.
The victory was achieved without Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi — all of whom would be likely first team regulars if they were fit and available — and it showed that there is more depth to this Arsenal squad than people presume.
You should not judge players on what is essentially a glorified friendly, but fans will have been happy with the performance despite a cruel injury to captain Per Mertesacker.
In a summer where transfer fees have gone beyond the point where they make any sense, Kolasinac’s arrival also went under the radar. On the basis of his display on Sunday, Arsene Wenger has got great value for money in signing the Bosnian international for free from Schalke.
Meanwhile, there was further proof of the improving form of Granit Xhaka in this Arsenal side. While the Swiss international had some disciplinary issues, he grew steadily in stature during his first campaign for the Gunners, and towards the end of the season he was integral to the new system that saw Wenger deploy three at the back for the first time in his Arsenal reign.
The Swiss was voted man of the match at Wembley on Sunday, and despite being very harshly underrated by some pundits, it was a display that should cause them to change their tune. His passing range is fabulous, he got an assist for the goal and in the absence of playmakers Ozil and Sanchez, he took on the responsibility from a much deeper area of the pitch. The partnership with the industrious Mohamed Elneny worked well, and if he can stay fit and out of the referee’s book he looks set to really flourish this season.
After the match, Wenger spoke about his need to edit the current squad, saying too much competition for places was “detrimental”. While Ramsey, Sanchez, Ozil and Koscielny were not involved due to injury, too many more were not involved simply because they’re not wanted.
However, we saw evidence at Wembley that even without some of their most key players, Wenger has an incredible crop of talent to choose from as they prepare for their Premier League opener against Leicester on Friday night.