By Sean Kearns | Metro |
Arsenal won the Community Shield on penalties after a 4-1 shooutout victory against Chelsea at Wembley.
The Gunners had started the brighter of the two sides and went close when Alexandre Lacazette struck an effort against the post midway through the first half.
However, after entering the break level, Chelsea were ahead after the restart when Victor Moses capitalised on some lax defending from a corner to put the Blues ahead.
Chelsea looked comfortable until Pedro was sent off ten minutes from time for a nasty challenge on Mohamed Elneny and Arsenal scored from the resulting set piece with Sead Kolasinac opening his account for the Gunners.
Kolasinac’s late strike took the game to penalties – where the new ‘ABBA system’ was trialled – and the Gunners came out on top after Alvaro Morata and Thibaut Courtois missed for Chelsea.
The Nigerian let his team-mates down in May when he was sent-off for a second booking after taking a dive in the FA Cup final.
Chelsea were getting back in the game but Moses’ sending-off gave the Gunners a huge advantage that afternoon.
The 26-year-old was out to make amends today and put his side ahead shortly after half-time when he nipped in at the back post to smash one past Petr Cech.
It’s not quite redemption for his red card but Moses showed what a valuable asset he is in Conte’s system and his marauding runs down the right flank were a constant threat for Arsenal.
The Spaniard was one of Chelsea’s brightest sparks throughout the match but his horror challenge on Mohamed Elneny gifted Arsenal a route back into the game.
The former Barcelona man was given his marching orders after a crunching challenge on the Egyptian and Sead Kolasinac headed Arsenal level from the resulting set piece.
Chelsea were the better side in the second half and Elneny was going nowhere before Pedro raked his studs down the midfielder’s ankle.
Like in May, Chelsea were reduced to 10-men and the Blues paid for it again.
To make matters worse, Pedro probably would have taken a penalty in the shootout.
The FA announced in May that there will be retrospective bans for diving this season but Willian’s booking encapsulates how difficult it will be to judge each case.
The Brazilian was booked after going down under Bellerin’s challenge in the box but replays showed there was contact from the Spaniard and Willian also tripped over his own leg.
Regardless of the referee’s call on whether it’s a penalty or not, it certainly wasn’t a dive from Willian and he didn’t deserve to be booked.
Bob Madley can be forgiven for not seeing the contact in real time and Willian’s staggered fall did make it look like he may have dived.
But referees must be 100% sure that players have dived, especially as they carry that tag around with them in future matches. He couldn’t have been sure and should have waved play on.
Alvaro Morata’s made just two appearances for Chelsea since his club record move to Stamford Bridge and today seemed like a perfect opportunity for the Spaniard to get some more crucial minutes in before the start of the Premier League season.
However, in a telling selection, Conte opted to start with Batshuayi. The Belgian striker barely played last term after his £30m move to west London but he’s had a decent pre-season.
It suggests Batshuayi is going to start the season as Chelsea’s number one striker, which will give time for Morata to settle at the club.
The German was forced off towards the end of the first half after picking up a nasty knock to the face following a unintentional clash with Gary Cahill’s elbow.
Mertesacker was man of the match in May’s FA Cup final and he remains – alongside Koscielny – integral to Arsenal’s defence.
The Gunners had looked relatively assured at the back throughout the first half but they were behind less than five minutes after the restart when Moses capitalised at the back post to put Chelsea ahead.
The Gunners were pushing out after a corner but nobody had an eye on Moses and it was exactly the type of sluggish incident that occurs when one of Mertesacker or Koscielny are not present.