FA Community Shield – Arsenal vs Chelsea – Match Preview – The Community Shield holds a vital role to everyone involved in English football – it takes place on the first weekend of the English league football season and signifies the beginning of the Premier League season.
How much the trophy itself ‘matters’ in the grand scheme of things is another debate entirely, but you can be absolutely sure both Chelsea and Arsenal will want to deny the other the opportunity to lift a title at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Premier League Champions Chelsea were denied a league and cup double as Arsenal defeated them 2-1 at Wembley in May to become FA Cup victors for the third time in four seasons. Antonio Conte’s men will be eager to exact revenge on the same pitch.
The 2017 and 95th Community Shield is an exact replica of circumstances in the 2015 edition, The Gunners winning 1-0 on that occasion thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s solitary goal.
Both sides have been subject to intense media speculation during the transfer window, perhaps less so for actual signings and more for scrutiny involving unfinished business.
The Blues have allowed Nemanja Matic to ply his trade at rivals Manchester United and have publicly stated their intention to sell imposing forward Diego Costa, alongside the usual plethora of players leaving the club on loan – as the club are preparing for a more congested and physically demanding campaign ahead of a return to Champions League football.
Arsenal, still have unresolved issues regarding the contracts of important players – including stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and the much-coveted Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Those that each side have brought in are, however, of a very high quality – including forward Alvaro Morata, German centre-back Antonio Rudiger and midfield destroyer Tiemoue Bakayoko for Chelsea whilst Arsenal have finally spent big on a striker in the name of £52m French international Alexandre Lacazette.
After 2016/17’s impressive achievements, The Blues’ usual demanding expectations will be even higher as they embark on a defence of their Premier League crown and foray into the Champions League.
Contrastingly, Arsenal will be a notable absence from the latter competition this year as for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s 21 year reign, the club finished below a Champions League-qualifying place, in 5th. Therefore all ambitions for the North-London will be domestic-related, as the French manager looks to secure the recently elusive Premier League title in what, once again, could be his swansong season.
Expect desire from both teams to impose themselves on the opposition from the get-go, and whilst the match may not be a true indication of how the season will eventually pan out, it is undoubtedly a more pleasurable feeling to lift a trophy at Wembley than watch one of your rivals take that opportunity away from you.
Chelsea have significant fitness worries going into the season opener, as Eden Hazard and Pedro are both unlikely to feature due to knocks picked up during the summer. This will surely promote Michy Batshuayi and Willian from their usual substitute roles to starting positions.
A lack of options up front could also force Morata to feature in what would be his first competitive game for the club, although he is struggling for full match fitness so will not be 100%. Another new name in Bakayoko is unlikely to play, prolonging the anticipation for Blues fans to see their new man in action.
Comparatively, Arsenal are in good health – bar a lingering doubt over the fitness of the influential Alexis Sanchez. Wenger stated that he is unsure whether the Chilean forward will play and will monitor the situation before deciding.
Player to watch
The game will be surrounded by plenty of talk regarding both club’s new blockbuster strikers, but as Morata is not fully fit and may be forced to play out of position to accommodate for limited options out wide, the main focus will be on Arsenal’s Lacazette.
Gunners’ fans will be desperate for their club-record signing to hit the ground running, and after a strong pre-season where he helped his side lift the Emirates Cup, the chances of doing so looks promising. The 26-year-old striker, capped 11 times by France, scored 37 goals for Lyon last campaign and is tipped by many to have an impressive first season in England too – starting with Sunday’s Community Shield.
- Skybet Price Boost – Arsenal to Win 1-0 – 12/1
- Skybet Scorecast Boost – Mesut Ozil to score first and Arsenal to Win 2-1 – 85/1
- Skybet Scorecast Boost (Double Chance) – Cesc Fabregas to score first and Chelsea to Win 2-1 or 3-1 – 40/1
- Skybet Both Players to Score – Alexandre Lacazette and Michy Batshuayi – 11/2
- Skybet Player Card Accumulator – Granit Xhaka and Antonio Rudiger – 6/1