Monday 21 May 2018

Feud rumbles on as Wenger ends Mourinho jinx

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0

Chelsea's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois cannot stop the shot from Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Chelsea's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois cannot stop the shot from Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Cesc Fabregas battles with Arsenal's Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey
Captain Mikel Arteta of Arsenal lifts the trophy after their 1-0 win in the FA Community Shield match against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium
Chelsea's Radamel Falcao Garcia in action during the FA Community Shield match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium

Matt Law

Frenchman dodges hand-shake after 'Ox' hits winner

Jose Mourinho waited at the bottom of the Wembley steps to congratulate every Arsenal player on their victory, but Arsene Wenger swerved the opportunity to get a pat on the back for ending his hoodoo.

Arsenal's Community Shield victory meant a Wenger team beat Mourinho's for the first time in 14 meetings between the two men and gave a signal that the Gunners could push the champions all the way in this season's Premier League title race.

The only push last season came in the form of a shove on the touchline from Wenger and the Frenchman made it clear he is in no mood to end the feud between the pair following this success.

Rather than waiting to see whether or not Mourinho offered an olive branch after shaking hands with all of the Arsenal players, including Petr Cech, Wenger disappeared behind the back of the Portuguese without so much as a glance.


The Chelsea manager decided against breaking right and chasing his quarry.

Read more: 'I stood where you miss me only if you want to miss me' - Mourinho

Mourinho, in turn, dodged a ball thrown at him from the Wembley stands and threw his runners-up medal to a young Arsenal fan.

He understandably does not want a reminder of losing to Wenger for the first time.

Such a brief moment, but what a story it tells of their enduring rivalry, of the two touchline megalomaniacs who can turn the most perfunctory social interaction into a competitive event.

Dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a training T-shirt, Mourinho clearly wanted to give the impression he is still very much in pre-season mode and will no doubt place little significance on his side's defeat.

But Wenger, suited as normal, will hope his team draw belief from this result, and there surely can be no more excuses for Arsenal not to challenge for the title for an entire season.

Read more: Five things we learned from Arsenal's Community Shield success

Other than the fact that he was wearing a different goalkeeper jersey, yesterday's curtain-raiser, his Arsenal debut, was familiar territory for Cech as he kept a clean sheet and picked up yet another winner's medal.

Chelsea fans had become used to seeing Cech put in unbeatable performances for their team over the past 11 years, but the Arsenal supporters are clearly delighted with their side's summer capture.

Cech had only one save of note to make in the entire match, but it was celebrated much like a goal. Some fans even turned up at Wembley in protective helmets in honour of their new hero.

Other than regretting the decision to allow Cech to join Chelsea's rivals, Mourinho may also rue the fact he was not successful in getting match-winner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as part of the deal.

Wenger rejected Mourinho's request to take Oxlade-Chamberlain in the opposite direction and that looks like a wise decision, given the England forward's lively Wembley performance that he capped with an excellent goal.

The decisive moment came in the 24th minute, when Oxlade-Chamberlain collected a pass from Theo Walcott on the right, cut inside and rifled a left-foot shot into the net that Thibaut Courtois was powerless to stop.

Wenger clenched his fists in celebration and no wonder, as it was Arsenal's first goal in 506 minutes against Chelsea. There was no Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal, as he returns to training this week following an extended break after the Copa America, and the prospect of the Chile striker on the left and an in-form Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right will be mouth-watering for Wenger.

Much like in the game against Manchester City that seemed to herald a change in thinking from Wenger last season, Arsenal were prepared to sit back and allow their opponents to have the ball before attempting to break.

Francis Coquelin carried out another outstanding screening job and Cech got through the first half against his former employers without having to make a save.

Ramires sent a shot wide and again failed to test Cech when he really should have levelled the scores. Loic Remy, starting because Diego Costa was once again having hamstring trouble, picked out the Brazilian with a brilliant cross, but he headed wastefully over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Mourinho clearly wanted to see more purpose to Chelsea's attacks and he sent on Radamel Falcao to replace Remy for the second half.

There was also a shift in formation, as Cesc Fabregas dropped back into a deeper midfield role and Eden Hazard, who had been quiet during the first period, moved into the middle behind Falcao.

Mourinho has claimed that Hazard was better than Cristiano Ronaldo last season, but the Belgian was some way short of the World Player of the Year when he was sent through by Fabregas.

It was a typically superbly-weighted ball from Fabregas that put Hazard through, but, with only Cech to beat, the Belgian scooped his effort high over the bar.

While Arsenal fans craved a victory over Chelsea and Mourinho, they also wanted to see a significant Cech save and it finally arrived with just over 20 minutes remaining after Coquelin had fouled Hazard to concede a free-kick.

Branislav Ivanovic stood directly in front of Cech as substitute Oscar weighed up the set piece, but it did not stop the 33-year-old making a diving save to his right to maintain Arsenal's advantage.


The Arsenal fans behind Cech's goal greeted the save like their team had scored and followed up with a chant of "Cech's a Gooner".

Even a routine catch from substitute Kurt Zouma's header prompted celebrations.

Ivanovic headed a Fabregas free-kick over with only two minutes remaining and Wenger had his victory.

Mourinho will already be counting down the days to the first Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on September 19. He might even deem the occasion important enough to dig out his suit.

Mourinho said later that Wenger's team had "abandoned their philosophy" in sitting back and defending the first half lead given to them by Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Wenger conceded that his team had been determined to defend well, but on the thorny question of philosophy said that his side had "abandoned nothing".

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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