It’s a bold call to back Arsenal to win the FA Community Shield on Sunday, considering Arsene Wenger’s poor record against Jose Mourinho, but it’s worth remembering that the Gunners beat Manchester City 3-0 in last season’s curtain-raiser.
Chelsea have had a tough trip to the USA over the last couple of weeks, taking in matches against New York Red Bulls, PSG and Barcelona, with the latter game only played in the early hours of Wednesday morning. By contrast Arsenal just won the Emirates cup in London, and have had a full week to prepare for this game.
It’s time to start getting excited about the new season when the Community Shield comes around on the Sunday before the Premier League kicks off, and it promises to be a fascinating affair between two old adversaries. Here are the full match details:
FA Community Shield, Wembley Stadium, Sunday 2nd August, 3pm
Chelsea – +145 with BetVictor
Draw – +250 with BetVictor
Arsenal to Lift the Trophy – +110 with Bet365
There’s no doubt that Chelsea are a tough side to beat, as they’ve proved again during preseason, but they haven’t been firing on all cylinders and have only just traveled back from a grueling tour to the US. They will be the team to beat this year once again, but it is questionable how much importance Jose Mourinho will attach to this ‘friendly’ competition with the dawn of the new season firmly on the horizon. It’s interesting to note that Chelsea have appeared in three of the last six Community Shields, but have been beaten twice over 90 minutes, and only won once on penalties. They were beaten 3-2 by Manchester City in 2012, and 3-1 by Manchester United in 2010.
Arsenal on the other hand, clearly value this competition as the 3-0 victory over Man. City last year shows. The Gunners prevailed with goals from Giroud, Ramsey and Carzola, and Arsene Wenger used it as a ‘psychological blow’ before the start of the season. It’s fair to say that his teams have suffered an inferiority complex in recent seasons next to the might of City, United and Chelsea, so a win here would send out a statement of intent ahead of the new campaign.
Wenger versus Mourinho
It would be especially satisfying for the Arsenal boss to get one over his old nemesis Jose Mourinho, and it’s true that he hasn’t beaten a Mourinho team in the last 13 attempts. It may be an unlucky number for some, but the pendulum might be about to swing in Arsenal’s favour on Sunday. The last time they beat Chelsea was in the famous 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge in 2011 when the Blues were managed by Andre Villas-Boas, but they haven’t got the better of them since the Special One returned to West London.
Since that incredible game, there have been 3 draws and 5 Chelsea wins in eight matches, so history is against the Gunners, but records were made to be broken and they won’t get many better chances than on Sunday afternoon.
The news coming out of Chelsea is that Diego Costa is likely to miss the match with a slight recurrence of his problem hamstring injuries, and Gary Cahill may also be sidelined with a suspected broken nose. Jose Mourinho has indicated that he could still take part with a protective mask, so his participation is still in the balance. Nonetheless, Chelsea still have one of the strongest squads in England, and Costa will be replaced by Falcao or Remy, while Zouma is an adequate replacement if Cahill doesn’t make it. More of a concern is the long distance they’ve traveled to get to this game, having only played against Barcelona in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They drew that game 2-2 and won on penalties, but it’s bound to have zapped some of the energy from Chelsea legs, and Arsenal have had a distinct advantage with a full week’s rest and no traveling to contend with.
The Gunners won the Emirates Cup last week with a Theo Walcott goal helping them to a 1-0 win over Wolfsburg, but the highlight of the tournament was a 6-0 thumping of Lyon. They brought in goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea over the summer, and the £10 million acquisition remains their only business in the close season. Despite rumours that his time in North London could be over Walcott is on the verge of signing a new deal, and he will be almost like a new signing after knee injuries restricted him to just 14 Premier League appearances last term. They’ve won all four preseason games, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one, and the opposition have been of a decent standard.
Chelsea suffered the embarrassing 4-2 loss to New York Red Bulls, but held PSG to a 1-1 draw before taking Barcelona to a 2-2 draw, so they’ve been conceding plenty of goals.
It’s a typically tactical affair whenever Mourinho’s teams come up against sides with the quality to hurt them, and he is one of the best at setting out his players to defend deep and play on the break. Chelsea have frustrated many a good side, and Sunday could follow a similar format with Arsenal looking to use the ball in their possession-based way, while Chelsea are likely to be much more direct.
Although the Blues have the players to hurt Arsenal – Eden Hazard in particular – there will be some tired legs out there, and Wenger’s men will be pushing for goals thoughout. Of course, there’s every chance that Chelsea can hold out, as they’ve done so often in the past, but if Arsenal can get their noses in front, it could be another headline-making win in the Community Shield.
Whether it will make any difference to their respective league campaigns is a moot point, but Arsenal are worth a small punt to come out on top here at a decent price.
FA Community Shield, Sunday 1st August, 3pm
2 pts Arsenal to Lift the Trophy – +110 with Bet365
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