Sunday 27 May 2018

Five things we learned from Arsenal's Community Shield success

Diego Costa and Jack Wilshere continue to struggle with chronic injury, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is England's best hope out wide

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates with the trophy after winning the FA Community Shield
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates with the trophy after winning the FA Community Shield

Ben Rumsby

Arsenal took the early season silverware and here are five things we learned from the London derby.

Diego Costa’s hamstrings and Jack Wilshere’s ankles will never be right

Chelsea and Arsenal have tried everything but witch doctors to cure the chronic injury problems of two of their biggest names. It hardly bodes well for either player that their trademark complaints have flared up before the season even starts.

Radamel Falcao may yet enjoy plenty of games for Chelsea after all. Arsenal, meanwhile, are not exactly short of attacking midfielders.

Could there come a time when they run out of patience with Wilshere?

Oxlade-Chamberlain is England’s best winger

If Raheem Sterling is worth £49 million, what price Oxlade-Chamberlain, who gave a timely reminder of the outstanding talent that sets him apart from England’s other wingers?

Not only did he terrorise one of the country’s best full-backs with his pace and skill, he had an end product to go with it – something that cannot always be said of Sterling – and scored a brilliant goal to boot. Over to you Raheem.

There is no such thing as a friendly between Arsenal and Chelsea

The Community Shield is meant to be a phoney war between two sides with more important trophies to defend but there was nothing artificial about this contest.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates after winning the FA Community Shield

Arsenal set the tone when they swarmed over Chelsea to win the ball at kick-off and there was little respite after that. Cesc Fabregas felt the full force of Per Mertesacker’s backside and a Francis Coquelin challenge, while Ramires left a leg high on Mesut Ozil. Even the Wembley turf had it in for Gary Cahill’s already-damaged nose.

Petr Cech really could be worth 12-15 points for Arsenal this season

Whatever an aura is, Petr Cech has it. Where Arsenal goalkeepers have failed for almost a decade before him, he succeeded in exuding calmness behind a defence that only last year conceded six goals to Chelsea.

Arsenal's Petr Cech celebrates at the end of the match

For three-quarters of his debut, he was left with virtually nothing to do, his mere presence seemingly causing Ramires and Eden Hazard to miss sitters from six yards. But, when called upon, he pulled off a fine save to keep out Oscar’s free-kick.

All good things come to an end

Whichever statistic you looked at coming into this game, it was damning for Arsene Wenger in terms of his long rivalry with Jose Mourinho.

No wins in 13 meetings, no goals in two-and-a-half years. But Wenger took up Mourinho’s challenge to find a way to beat him in a way that may make this Community Shield fixture one of the most psychologically important ever played.

Then again, it will probably just be another false dawn.

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