Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea: Gunners win Community Shield 4-1 on penalties at Wembley
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Arsenal won the Community Shield at Wembley against Chelsea on Sunday in a dramatic game against the Premier League Champions.
Substitute Sead Kolasinac, on for captain Per Mertesacker who picked up a deep cut on his forehead, equalised for Arsene Wenger’s side after Victor Moses put the Blues 1-0 up moments after the break.
Arsenal then won the subsequent penalty shoot-out 4-1 under new rules with replacement Olivier Giroud joyously netting the fourth and deciding spot-kick.
It was a fitting end to an entertaining match that saw Asenal and Chelsea both lined-up in front of the Community Shield, the FA Cup and the Premier League trophy before the start of the traditional curtain raiser to the English Premier League season.
You couldn’t help thinking would it be the closest the Gunners would get to the latter trophy over the next gruelling nine months.
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But as football fans from all over London and beyond paid tribute to the victims of Grenfell Tower before kick-off as a haunting rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water rang out around Wembley before kick off – coupled with an impeccably observed minute’s silence it showed football is not more important than life or death, or even the sometimes all-consuming hunt for silverware.
Arsenal started the brighter as Granit Xhaka found Danny Welbeck in the box on eight minutes but Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois gathered his header comfortably.
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Good interchange play between Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny on the edge of the area saw Courtois close the angle and smother a close-range shot from the 21-year-old Lagos-born youngster.
Cesar Azpilicueta then pulled down Welbeck after the former Manchester United forward eased beyond him and was deservedly shown a yellow by referee Bobby Madley.
Hector Bellerin in a pivotal right-wing back role then joined his countryman in the book after a late challenge on Marcos Alonso moments later.
Alexandre Lacazete hit the post on 22 minutes with a low right-footed curler that had Courtois beaten as Arsenal showed far more cohesion – and energy in the opening stages.
Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey were left out of the squad with minor knocks, while Laurent Koscielny was omitted as he is suspended for first two league games.
Unsettled Alexis Sanchez and Skodran Mustafi were deemed by Wenger to be short of fitness for this match.
As if to underline the intensity shown in the first half – at least compared to round-the-world jaunts by both sides at any rate – Arsenal’s captain, leader, legend Per Mertesacker received a head injury that forced him to be replaced by new signing Sead Kolasinac. The free-transfer from Schalke immediately impressed by embarking on a powerful, surging run that took him to the edge of the Chelsea box before off-loading to the waiting Oxlade-Chamberlain.
If the big Serbian can provide such attacking intent and prowess during the rest of the season, allied to his defensive solidity he will prove to be an important signing.
The second half had barely started before Victor Moses put Chelsea 1-0 up after taking the ball in his stride before firing past Cech.
Kolasinac linked well with Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left, in an embryonic partnership that bodes well. He also showed his physicality by clattering into Moses and was lucky to avoid a yellow card.
Lacazette and Iwobi were replaced by Olivier Giroud and Walcott as Batshuayi and Alonso were substituted for Antonio Rudiger and £70 million signing from Real Madrid Alvaro Morata as Chelsea hung on as Arsenal pushed them deeper through their increasing forays.
Xhaka had a 30-yard left-footed curler tipped past the post by an alert Courtois before Pedro made a late challenge and was sent off by Madley with ten minutes remaining.
It was the second time in three months Chelsea were down to ten men against Arsenal. And the second time in three months the extra man made the difference.
The impressive Kolasinac, who had a debut to remember leaped higher than anyone in a crowded box to power the ball past the despairing dive of Courtois to level the scores at 1-1 moments later.
It was little more than an enterprising Arsenal team deserved as their fans urged them on loudly in the closing minutes.
But neither side could make the breakthrough as Madley blew for the end of the match, with the prospect of penalties to come.
Arsenal showed a deadly side to their spot-kicks as new rules saw their accuracy heap pressure on the Blues as they eventually won the shoot-out 4-1.
Giroud netted the winner – much to the delight of his team-mates and joyous Arsenal fans who saw their club lift silverware of sorts for the second weekend in a row. It may not mean much in the scheme of things, but it certainly laid a marker for the coming season in a bold performance against the Premier League champions.
The phoney war is over. Roll on Leicester City at the Emirates on Friday.
Arsenal: Cech, Mertesacker (Kolasinac), Lacazette (Giroud), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Holding, Iwobi (Walcott), Monreal, Welbeck, Bellerin (booked), Xhaka, Elneny.
Chelsea: Courtois, Alonso (Rudiger), Fabregas, Kante, Pedro, Moses, Willian, Batshuayi (Morata), Cahill (c), Azpilcueta (booked), Luiz.
Referee: Bobby Madley.
Arsenal win 4-1 on penalties after 1-1 draw over 90 minutes.