Finally, we’re back to real football, well almost. Tomorrow sees the Community Shield which has become a regular fixture for us of late with this being our 3rd appearance in since 2014. This year’s season curtain raiser will see us face Chelsea at Wembley at 2 pm U.K. as I’m sure you already know.
Tomorrow’s game may be viewed by people as a friendly, but both teams will no doubt be looking for a win. Since our F.A. Cup victory over the Blues we’ve played them again over in China, which ended in a loss, but here’s how our overall pre-season form looks going into the Community Shield:
In these games which have spanned Australia, China, and the Emirates there have been encouraging signs but we haven’t looked convincing at all times. Looking back the high points of our pre-season were the 5-2 win over Benfica last week as well as Alexandre Lacazette scoring a couple of goals. Hopefully, we can take these positives into the game on Sunday.
Pre-season has also made it clear that we’ll be sticking with the 3-4-2-1 formation Wenger introduced at the back end of last season. Looking at the team selections over pre-season though some will be asking ‘who will be starting up top?’
Pre-season has seen Wenger rotate between Olivier Giroud and Lacazette with both being relatively potent but with Lacazette sometimes playing behind his countryman this could see them both start. However, with Lacazette coming in for big money along with the fan expectation I see the new boy coming in to start.
Two players that unlikely to lead the line for Arsenal, from the start at least, are Lucas Perez and Alexis Sanchez. In his press conference on Thursday, Wenger was asked about both and here’s what he had to say regarding Sanchez: “We don’t want to take too big a gamble on a player who has just come back, for us it’s important to build his fitness.”
However, he then went on to say “he might play.”
But as we know with Alexis there could still be a possibility that he can find himself on the Wembley turf despite only coming back to training recently.
On Perez though Wenger was a bit more concrete as he said: “We have a congestion of strikers, I don’t like to lose him because he’s a top quality striker but at some stage, too much competition is no competition.”
“If he finds a satisfying solution we will do it.”
Two other players who look to be doubts for the game are Shkodran Mustafi, having also recently returned to training, and Francis Coquelin who picked up an injury in the Emirates Cup.
On Coquelin, Wenger revealed that he’d be out for around two weeks.
In regard to players that look unlikely to feature on Sunday here are Chelsea’s doubts:
Eden Hazard – The Belgian is still nursing a broken ankle picked up on international duty.
Pedro – Still recovering from David Ospina’s challenge a few weeks ago.
Tiemoue Bakayoko – Their new midfielder joined with an injury picked up while still at Monaco and is still recovering.
Focusing on the task ahead come Sunday lunchtime the Arsenal boss shared what he thought about the Community Shield and our opponents saying: “It is a good opportunity to repeat the performance we had in the F.A. Cup final.”
“To be ready for the championship, that plays a part as well.”
Having played Chelsea a few weeks ago Wenger also shed light on who he thinks could be Chelsea’s danger men as he said: “They’ve replaced Costa with Morata who is maybe less of a goalscorer but can score and provide.”
“Against us in Asia Batshuayi played very well, he is very promising as well.”
Going into this game, like in the final in May Arsenal fans may be cautious but the odds seem to be in our favour. We won two of the three games played against Chelsea last season, we won both Community Shields we played in since ending our trophy drought in 2014 (one of which against Chelsea) and we’ve won our last seven games at Wembley. Chelsea have also lost their last three Community Shield games.
So, wherever you’re watching the game on Sunday, yes a win against Chelsea might seem like a big ask, but it’s not out of our reach and even if it’s just the Community Shield everyone wants to go into the season with a win don’t they? Anyway, hope you guys enjoy the game and COYG.