First of all, let me say something: I consider the Community Shield as a trophy as much as any other supercup in the world. So, today’s match is important and if we win it I will add it to the list of trophies we have won over the last 15 months. You might have forgotten we have won more trophies since the beginning of 2013-14 than any other English club (Arsenal have won three, Manchester City and Chelsea have each won two and Manchester United one).
Today’s game, however, has additional weight. It’s Arsene Wenger versus Jose Mourinho, Arsenal versus Chelsea, The Self-sustainable One versus The Sugar-daddy’s-favourite-toy One.
Mourinho has never lost a game to Wenger but it should be said that his first victory over Wenger was in the 2005-06 Community Shield (via bbc.co.uk). Perhaps it’s time for Wenger’s first victory over the big-mouthed Portuguese.
In order to do that, we need to score a goal. Arsenal haven’t scored a goal in five matches against Chelsea since Mourinho’s return. (via dailymail.co.uk) Our task won’t be an easy one, especially with both Alexis Sánchez and Danny Welbeck unavailable for today’s game. The biggest threat for Chelsea’s goalkeeper (either Thibaut Courtois or Asmir Begović) will be Theo Walcott. The English forward has scored five goals against Chelsea including one in each of the last two Arsenal victories against our bitter rivals.
In order to make Walcott as effective as possible, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil will have to find holes in the Chelsea defence. Not an easy task though considering they have one of the best defensive midfielders in the world (Nemanja Matić) and a well-established pair in central defence (John Terry-Gary Cahill). Terry is dangerous in front of our opponents’ goal too so he’ll have to be under special treatment at set-pieces.
Petr Čech’s experience with Terry can come in handy though. Our new goalkeeper played with Terry for a decade and knows him better than anyone else. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will have a difficult task keeping Diego Costa at bay, especially with Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas pulling the strings from the Chelsea midfield.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s role in both attack and defence will be pivotal. If he starts on the wing today, he’ll have to both help his full-back (Bellerin or Debuchy) and drill a hole through their left full-back (most likely Azpilicueta).
Winning the Community Shield would mean a lot on a psychological level for Arsenal. We would break both the Chelsea hoodoo (we haven’t beaten them since October 2011) and the Mourinho hoodoo. It would also mean that Arsenal can beat Chelsea without Alexis.
I can see the game going to penalties. Both teams can cancel each other like they did in April this year so it will be up to the spot kickers and goalkeepers to decide the winner.
For the first time in my life, I hope Petr Čech will decide the winner with his saves.