London rivals, Chelsea and Arsenal are set to do battle on Sunday, August 6th in the FA Community Shield.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea last played a competitive game against the North London side about two months ago in the FA Cup final which they lost 2-1 after a lacklustre and uninspiring display. The blue side of London would be looking to right that wrong this Sunday when both teams face-off at Wembley in the new season’s curtain-raiser.
Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal have had a good pre-season with the new addition Alexanre Lacazette making an instant impact. Chelsea’s pre-season has however been marred by injuries to key members of the squad including Pedro, Eden Hazard and new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko. While the likes of Alvaro Morata, Alexis Sanchez, Antonio Rudiger and Shkodran Mustafi are behind in match fitness and are expected to start from the bench.
Arsenal and Chelsea have both met twice in the community shield and Chelsea were 2-1 winners in 2005, while Arsenal defeated Chelsea 1-0 in 2015 thanks to a screamer from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Worthy of note is the fact that Arsenal have won all of their last eight matches at Wembley, while Chelsea have gone on to win the league title in both the seasons in which they lifted the trophy. Arsenal have had more joy in the community shield than their London neighbours with four wins from their six matches (2002, 2004, 2014, 2015), while Chelsea have had just two successes in seven attempts (2005, 2009).
Wenger on the game: ‘For us it is just a good opportunity to repeat the performance from the FA Cup final. The two teams will certainly go for the first trophy of the season with power and a desire as well to be ready for the championship, so that plays a part in it as well.’
While for Conte, it’s about playing a good game. ‘We want to try to start the season with a win. I hope to see a good game from the players and for the people. This is the first trophy of the season, it’s an important game. We want to play a good game with good intensity’.
Laurent Kolscieny and Victor Moses who were both red carded in the last game of the season and FA cup final respectively, would be available for the game as it isn’t considered a competitive fixture by the FA but they would serve their respective bans once the league season resumes.
After the 3-0 loss to Arsenal in the league last season, Antonio Conte introduced a preferred 3-4-3 formation at Chelsea which worked wonders. Just like the other managers in the league, Arsene Wenger adopted this formation for the latter part of last season, beat Chelsea to the FA Cup in the process and stuck to it for the major part of the summer.
Although a pre-season friendly, bragging rights are at stake and it remains to be seen if Wenger would once again beat Conte to his own game. Sunday is the day, 2pm is the time!