Arsenal and Chelsea meet again at Wembley on Sunday in English football’s traditional curtain-raiser.
The match is of course between the Premier League champions and the FA Cup winners, while it takes place less than three months after the Gunners beat Chelsea at the same ground 2-1 in the FA Cup final; their third Cup triumph in four seasons.
The two sides also met in Bird’s Nest stadium in China a fortnight ago, where the Blues comfortably won 3-0 – albeit in a pre-season friendly.
Last Community Shield Encounter
These London rivals have met twice previously in the Community Shield. Chelsea were 2-1 winners in 2005, while Arsenal defeated Chelsea 1-0 in 2015 thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Jose Mourinho was beaten on the day by Arsene Wenger, and it appeared to be the beginning of the end for the Special One – who was sacked later in the year.
Arsene Wenger is close to having a full squad to choose from, but doubts remain over Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi after their Confederations Cup exertions. Wenger said Sanchez ?looked like he had never been away in his first few training sessions back in London, but he will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s game.
Despite some confusion surrounding his ban, Laurent Koscielny is available for for the match. The Frenchman received a red card and a three-match ban for a ridiculous foul on Enner Valencia in Arsenal’s final league match against Everton, ruling him out of the FA Cup final, as well as the first two league matches of the new season.
Francis Coquelin is a definite absentee after an ankle ligament injury, but Aaron Ramsey is expected to recover from a slight muscular scare to partner Granit Xhaka in midfield. New signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac are expected to feature prominently.
Last season’s star players Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are unavailable, the Belgian winger is recovering from a broken ankle and Costa has been exiled from the squad by Antonio Conte. Pedro is also a doubt meaning summer signing Alvaro Morata might start in a more withdrawn role behind Michy Batshuayi.
Victor Moses who was sent off for simulation in May’s FA Cup final is available for Sunday but will miss the Blues’ first League game against Burnley. Tiemoue Bakayoko will also miss the clash with a knee injury.
Arsene Wenger has stuck to a back three for most of the summer and is expected to continue with his new system on Sunday. Similarly, Chelsea are set to use the same formation in which they won the league last year.
Arsenal 3-4-3: Ospina, Holding, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud, Ozil.
Chelsea 3-4-3: Courtois, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Batshuayi, Morata, Willian.
Chelsea’s tour of Asia lasted a few days longer than Arsenal’s, with Conte admitting his players were exhausted by the end of their schedule in relentless humidity. Therefore, the condition of both teams is something that will come into play during this encounter.
With no Costa, Hazard, Bakayoko and Pedro, the champions have fewer options than Arsenal who have almost a full squad at their disposal and have also emerged victorious in their last eight matches at Wembley. With this in mind, Wenger’s side looks likely to secure a win.
Verdict: Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea