Arsenal won their third Community Shield in the last four years with a penalty shoot-out victory over Premier League champions Chelsea. The shoot-out, the first in English football to utilise the ABBA format, saw the Blues miss back-to-back penalties, which pertaining to Olivier Giroud’s winning kick.
New big-money signing Alvaro Morata’s poor effort was sent wide whilst Thibaut Courtois essentially took a goal-kick from the spot as his penalty blazed over the bar.
Chelsea went ahead in the regular match through Victor Moses, however their case was made all the more difficult by Pedro’s sending off in the 80th minute, which gave Arsenal the impetus and free signing Sead Kolasinac equalised only two minutes later.
Here are five things we learned from an uncharacteristically feisty Community Shied at Wembley.
1 Kolasinac the hero
Beginning the match on the bench, the free transfer from Schalke replaced the injured Per Mertesacker in the 32nd minute as the left-sided centre-back of a back three. He wasted no time in winning over the hearts of Arsenal fans.
A tank of a player, Kolasinac dominated his section of the back three and marshalled his channel extremely well, limiting the attacking threat Chelsea had through Pedro and Moses. With the ball at his feet, he used his strength to surge forwards into opposition territory, with few able to stop him.
The Bosnian capped his performance with the equalising goal, a powerful header from Granit Xhaka’s free-kick, eight minutes from time. Social media was already awash with memes. The difference between Kolasinac and other subjects of Arsenal memes, however, is that he can play.
Perhaps the most under-the-radar signing of the summer.
2 Conte makes his point
As has been the subject of his complaints for the most part of the summer, Antonio Conte spent a majority of his pre-match press conference bemoaning the size of his squad, removing the thin veil previously covering his requests to the Chelsea board to invest further.
His point, though, was perhaps most noticeable when you compared the size of the squads on the back of the Community Shield programme.
Moreover, Conte named none of his new signings in the starting XI, with Tiemoue Bakayoko injured and Alvaro Morata not yet match fit, with the Spaniard not given a role to play until the 74th minute.
Whilst his stubborn refusal to utilise his new signings perhaps killed Chelsea’s chances in the game, it sent a message to Roman Abramovich that the squad needs more work before the close of the window.
3 A big season for Danny Welbeck
Arsene Wenger left both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, the two best players at the club, out of the match-day squad entirely and a comfortable Chelsea win was the expected outcome.
However, the Gunners played to a high standard and retained a decent level of creativity, in no small part due to the efforts of Danny Welbeck. Deployed as a left-sided inside forward to support Alexandre Lacazette, he may have found his best role for the club.
Welbeck was a solid defensive influence, worked tirelessly to track back and cover the back three, winning 100% of his tackles, but was productive in possession, too, using his speed and strength to work his way into dangerous areas.
His intelligence was impressive, he had the awareness to come narrow to create space for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide and to lead the line when Lacazette dropped deep.
It’s comforting for Wenger to know if for whatever reason, Sanchez or Ozil are unavailable, Welbeck is up for the task.
4 Pedro can't be Hazard
Chelsea were without Eden Hazard once more as the Belgian still recovers from an ankle injury sustained on the post-season international break and they need their best player back as soon as possible.
Pedro tried his best to imitate the influence Hazard has on the side, but it was ultimately to no avail as Chelsea’s attack looked blunt. Without the Belgian drawing defenders out of position with his movement and laying off the ball intelligently with deft touches, the Blues lacked a slick touch in the final third and Arsenal competently dealt with their threat.
They scored from a set-piece and then sat back and tried to hit on the counter, a worrying sight for the future. Hazard can’t be expected to play every game in the season and Conte needs to find a way of developing a functioning attack in his absence.
5 ABBA causes confusion
Level after 90 minutes once Kolasinac’s header cancelled out Moses’ opener, the game went to penalties in the new ABBA format. The system was introduced to prevent one team gaining a perceived advantage in consistently going first. Hence, A take the first kick, followed by team B, then B once more before A gets their second.
Confused? The players were too…
After Gary Cahill put Chelsea 1-0 up, Theo Walcott equalised, but panic –a little, at least- began to seep in. Nacho Monreal stepped up to take the next kick before some of his players frantically tried to wave him back, believing it was Chelsea’s kick next. Monreal was correct, however, and scored.
Then came the Blues’ two consecutive kicks, both of which were missed by Courtois and Morata, perhaps slightly set off mentally by the confusion with the format. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud won it for Arsenal.
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