Arsenal on Sunday won the season’s first piece of silverware as they secured a penalty shootout win over Chelsea to
claim the Community Shield.
Victor Moses, the villain of the Blues’ failed Double bid in May, scored the game’s opener moments after half-time
to secure a Wembley win for the reigning champions but summer signing Sead Kolasinac struck on 82 minutes as Arsenal
made the most of Pedro’s red card.
Arsene Wenger had left out a quartet of his finest players, including Laurent Koscielny, who is banned for the next
two Premier League matches. Chelsea similarly started without summer signings Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata,
both of whom were among the substitutes.
Arsenal, who had returned from their pre-season odyssey a week earlier than the Premier League champions, were
notably faster out of the blocks at Wembley, with Danny Welbeck probing in the space between Cesar Azpilicueta and
Victor Moses on the Chelsea right.
Twice in the space of a minute the Gunners prospered down the left. First Alex Iwobi ghosted to the byline, his
cutback parried by Thibaut Courtois. Alexandre Lacazette was lurking but could do nothing to deflect the ball
Soon after Xhaka’s flick into the box gave an unmarked Welbeck the chance to head into Courtois’ arms. Chelsea’s
right flank was creaking and it was no surprise when Azpilicueta was brought down for hauling the former Manchester
United forward down.
Arsenal’s pressure reached a crescendo on 22 minutes when a counter from one end to the other ended with £52million
man Alexandre Lacazette curling a fine shot around Gary Cahill and against Courtois’ left post.
Just as Arsenal’s momentum seemed irresistible they were handed a setback as a bloodied Per Mertesacker, who just as
in May’s FA Cup Final had marshalled Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal with distinction, exited after an elbow from
Left back Sead Kolasinac slotted into an increasingly uncomfortable back three but Chelsea’s pressure grew, with
Pedro’s powerful drive on the break parried by Petr Cech.
A heavy touch from Hector Bellerin then gave Chelsea another chance in the area, Willian bursting beyond the
Spaniard before going down. First impressions appeared to suggest Bobby Madley had been right to show a yellow to
the forward but every replay seemed to offer further evidence that a trailing leg had caused the fall.
Willian’s booking brought to mind Moses’ red 71 days ago for a similar incident.
But soon into the second half the Nigerian international earned if not redemption then at least a degree of clemency
as the Arsenal defence played him onside from a cleared corner. Gary Cahill looped a header back into the area and
Moses was on hand to volley home.
Without Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey Arsenal struggled to create the chances needed to bring them
level, with Wenger throwing on Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott in place of Iwobi and a tiring Lacazette. Soon after
Conte responded by turning to record signing Alvaro Morata, but none of them could liven up a tepid affair.
However a red card for Pedro’s raking challenge along Elneny’s Achilles on 82 minutes opened the door for Arsenal.
Though Walcott and Morata went close at both ends the game was inexorably bound for penalties, where the new ABBA
format made its debut.
But running orders mattered for little as Courtois skied over and Morata fired wide.
Meanwhile Walcott, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud all found the net for Arsenal as they ensured a second
Wembley win over their London rivals in little over two months.
Report courtesy of the London Evening Standard