Just six days after the Champions League final brought the 2019-20 season to a close, Arsenal and Liverpool raised the curtain on the 2020-21 English season with the traditional opener - the FA Community Shield.
Last season’s FA Cup winners Arsenal emerged victorious, pipping Premier League winners Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 in regulation time.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seemed to have started the new season in the same goalscoring form in which he ended the previous one. That was evident when Arsenal soaked up early pressure from Liverpool and took the lead thanks to a fine finish from the Arsenal captain.
Although their goal came against the run of play, Arsenal looked settled against the Premier League champions who dominated possession but had little to show for it as the first half drew to a close.
After failing to record a single shot on target in the first half, Liverpool attacked with greater intensity. With the Arsenal players looking increasingly tired as the game wore on, Liverpool's efforts bore dividends in the 73rd minute. Substitute Takumi Minamino pounced on a loose ball in the Arsenal penalty area and produced a calm finish past Emiliano Martinez to register his first goal for the Reds.
With no more goals by either team in the remainder of the game, a penalty shootout ensued.
Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster produced the only miss amidst nine excellent spot-kicks from both sides. Fittingly, it was Aubameyang who scored the decisive penalty to deliver Arsenal's first silverware of the new season.
As the attention now turns to the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season where Arsenal take on Fulham and Liverpool face Leeds, here are five hits and flops from the season’s curtain-raiser at Wembley.
#5: Hit - Mikel Arteta (Arsenal manager)
After a turbulent last season that saw them go through three managers, Arsenal seem to have finally found the ideal long-term solution to follow in Arsene Wenger’s footsteps.
Arteta’s positive influence on Arsenal became increasingly apparent as the season progressed and culminated in his side lifting the FA Cup at Wembley. The Spaniard exhibited his ability to outthink the best managers in the game last season when Arsenal secured wins over Liverpool and Manchester City.
Arteta got his tactics spot on yet again in the Community Shield clash with Liverpool.
The Arsenal manager's three-at-the-back system that proved so successful in the latter stages of last season was deployed to great effect against the Premier League champions.
Liverpool’s famed attacking trio were kept largely quiet by Arsenal’s backline who were also extremely adept in calmly playing the ball out from the back. While building from the back got Arsenal their goal, there was no over-reliance on this philosophy either; Arsenal’s defenders and goalkeeper showed no hesitation in booting the ball long when necessary.
Ahead of his first full season in charge of Arsenal and with a few new signings to call upon, the club's fans will have high hopes from Arteta in the upcoming season.
#4: Flop - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
So often the source of goals for Liverpool, Mohamed Salah had an uncharacteristically quiet performance against a well-organised and disciplined Arsenal defence.
The Egyptian, sporting a new shorter hairdo, was expertly neutralised by the combined efforts of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kieran Tierney down Liverpool’s right flank that reduced him to hopeful (and frustratingly unsuccessful) runs in behind.
Things improved marginally for him as Liverpool chased the game in the second half and he also tucked away his spot-kick in the shootout. But both Salah and Liverpool will hope that his influence in future matches increases dramatically when the new season commences.