FA Community Shield Preview: Arsenal vs Chelsea - What we can expect
With the 2015/16 season close to the start, the two giants of English football, Premier League champions Chelsea and FA Cup holders Arsenal, go head to head in the season opener at the Wembley stadium in London tonight. We look at how the two teams will line-up and what we can expect when the two London rivals meet in the FA Community Shield.
Arsenal won the Community Shield last year making it 13 Shield titles, behind United’s 20 and Liverpool’s 15, whereas the Blues have only won it four times, their last victory coming in 2009. Both the sides will be expected to give the Wembley crowd something to cheer for as Wenger and Mourinho resume their epic rivalry. The Gunners’ boss will look to find a way to win his first competitive match against a Mourinho side, having never won against him.
Before the match on Sunday, both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho were quick to rule out the fact that pre-season reflects the form of the side. When asked about his side’s pre-season triumphs, Wenger was appreciative and urged his side to replicate the ‘special’ form they had shown in the latter part of the season, whereas Mourinho, with his perfectly timed mind games, called the pre-season games ‘fake’ and instead prefered to challenge Wenger and his men to break Chelsea’s unbeatable streak against Arsenal.
Venue & Kick-Off
The new Wembley stadium in London will host the FA Community Shield. The majestic stadium has capacity of around 90,000 spectators. The speciality of the Community Shield is that the revenue from the match is distributed to the 124 clubs that compete in the FA Cup from the first round onwards. These clubs, in turn, give the proceeds to charities and projects of their choice.
Kick-off: 2 August 2015 – 7:30PM (IST)
Predicted Starting Lineups
Arsenal have had a good pre-season and all the players look fresh and raring to go. Also, the team has all the players available with the exception of Danny Welbeck, who hasn’t yet fully recovered from his knee injury, and Alexis Sanchez, who has been on an extended holiday after winning the Copa America with Chile.
Wenger could field a strong eleven granting Petr Cech his official debut for Arsenal in a competitive match against his former club. Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey will be expected to run the midfield and provide assistance to Olivier Giroud and winger Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has shown he can make the runs down the right side and finish the job himself.
Wenger will field the eleven playing the Arsenal way and trying to get past the Chelsea ‘bus’. However, if the midfield does not live upto the expectations, Arsenal can be put to the sword by champions Chelsea.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have had two setbacks with defender Gary Cahill and striker Diego Costa both doubtful for the game. Mourinho will not be expected to risk them with the new season starting next weekend. Defender Kurt Zouma and striker Radamel Falcao will be expected to fill the boots of the injured men.
Falcao will be making his Chelsea debut up front, but Mourinho has the option of playing Loic Remy as well. Chelsea have shown a lack of match fitness in their pre-season and with the Blues scheduled to play Fiorentina at home on 5th August in a friendly, Mourinho could have a tough time if all does not go well in the Community Shield and the Premier League opener on Saturday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Kurt Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Radamel Falcao
The German ace will be expected to replicate his pre-season form in the big match against Chelsea as well. Having scored two and assisted five goals, Ozil will be the key player for Arsenal. Coming from a good holiday, Ozil looked fresh and raring to go in the games he played and has honed his skills perfectly, now looking to score goals as well.
After having two injury prone and post-World Cup seasons at Arsenal, Ozil looks like the real deal and has recently stated that this is a big season for him as an Arsenal player. The precision with his passing and creative flair will be expected of the World Cup-winning German and he could be the match-winner for the Gunners.
Just like last season, Eden Hazard will be the man to watch out for. He has commanded the Chelsea frontline and is desperate to the get the season underway. Coming off a tough pre-season, the Belgian international will be the main threat for Arsenal as they look to defend well in the coming season.
Hazard, who was the PFA Player of the Season, will be expecting to win the Community Shield for Chelsea. Arguably the best winger in the Premier League at the moment, Hazard has developed a reputation of tearing the opponents apart with his speed and finishing.
The Blues have had little rest, playing their last friendly against Barcelona on 29th July while Arsenal had a week off after their Emirates Cup triumph. It is going to be a hard-fought season opener, with both the sides having some attacking players on show.
However, Arsenal seem like the favorites to beat Chelsea as they come into the fixture in prime form and on the back of winning two pre-season trophies in the form of Barclays Asia Trophy and the Emirates Cup. A third maybe?