It’s almost time for the all too clichéd ‘curtain raiser’ of the 2015/16 Premier League season; the Community Shield, kicking off at 3pm BST at Wembley. This year it pits the ever increasingly heated rivalry of Arsenal, winners of last seasons FA Cup, against Chelsea, last seasons run away Premier League Champions. The match will kick-off the 6 day countdown until the season officially kicks off on the 8th of August.
Battle of the Minds;
Arsenal will come into this as the underdogs, despite their form, due to the mere fact that Arsene Wenger has never managed to record a win over Jose Mourinho in his two stints in charge of the West London outfit. If Arsenal are to have any chance, it will boil down to Wenger managing to negate his way through the perilous battlefield of provocative media statements made by his counterpart. In past meetings between the two sides, Mourinho has often won the game before the players have even taken to the field. How? Simply, by getting under Wenger’s skin. Especially, that infamous “specialist in failure” jibe.
However, Mourinho’s recent jibe at Chelsea’s title contenders for having to “buy their success” came in for little more than a calm retort from Wenger, stating the clubs transfer policy to buy players when they are needed. They will likely be much more said in the build-up, prior to, and, after the game between the two. Would Wenger be humble if he was to gain his first win over a Mourinho led Chelsea? I doubt any neutrals would blame him for being just a tad outspoken if he does.
Where Will It Be Won and Lost?
Other than the two managers, there will be plenty of battles on the pitch too. None more so than one which will be very much so under the microscope. Petr Cech’s first game against his old club – which will pit his performance against that of the young man who usurped him for the No.1 spot at Chelsea last season. A large portion of Chelsea fans feel they may have let Cech escape far too easily, and, you’d have to agree as the Czech international would have improved almost every/any clubs starting XI.
Another battle sure to be key to who will win or lose this years Community Shield will be Eden Hazard against Hector Bellerin, well, and the whole of the Arsenal defence for that matter. Hazard, although having a statistically worse season last term than his 2013/14, he was lauded by pundits and fans alike for his flamboyant performances and his thoroughly impressive displays which have now even begun to show signs of a Mourinho-mentor; as he is now even spotted tracking his runners back and defending when he is not in possession of the ball.
With Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez due to be missing from proceedings due to his involvement in the Copa America, Arsenal will really need their other midfielders to step up if they are to stand a chance. They will need to be up to the test both physically to match the Chelsea midfield, but, players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla will also need to be even more creative than normal. They will dearly miss Sanchez’s explosive nature, but, Chelsea will also be missing their key striker, Diego Costa.
For Chelsea, it is only the absence of Costa, who although he has recovered from an injury during pre-season, is doubtful to be risked before the start of the season. It leaves an element of doubt upfront for Chelsea – will they go with Loic Remy, who has recently stated his intent to stay at the club, or, could former Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao get his first competitive start for the blues?
Francis Coquelin against Nemanja Matic will also be an engrossing combat. Both men emerged last season as an important cog at the base of their respective clubs midfield units. Will either man dictate the proceedings, or, will one be doing a lot more defending than the other? It’s worth noting that whoever of these two gets the upper hand, will undoubtedly be the one whose part of the winning side on Sunday.
Arsenal haven’t beaten a Mourinho-led Chelsea in 13 attempts, their record stands at L7 D6 W0. Not the most inspiring of records.
Chelsea have only conceded once in the sides last six meetings.
Arsenal will be hoping to pull another unlikely result out of the bag to win the Community Shield, much like last years 3-0 win over Manchester City.
It’s impossible not to tip Chelsea for this, especially as Arsenal are without Sanchez. Even without their first choice striker, I feel the midfield of Chelsea will just have the edge over Arsenal’s.