Community Shield 2015: Arsenal Lands Opening Salvo Vs. Chelsea Ahead Of 2015-16


August 3, 2015

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are in mid-season form a week before the 2015-16 Premier League campaign begins.

Postgame fireworks between Wenger and Mourinho overshadowed Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in the 2015 FA Community Shield on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin scored the game’s only goal in the 24th minute to give Arsenal the win over Chelsea in the annual exhibition game — between the reigning Premier League champion and FA Cup holder — which also serves as the de-facto curtain-raiser for English soccer’s 10-month-long season.

The Community Shield is a glorified exhibition game, but the teams didn’t treat it as such. Their strong starting lineups included a host of players who undoubtedly will feature heavily in 2015-16. The game lacked tempo in large parts — perhaps due to the summer heat — but it always was competitive, had tough tackles and goal-scoring chances created, missed and converted.

Arsenal and Chelsea embody separate philosophies on how to play the sport best and don’t particularly like each other. Neither do Mourinho and Wenger, whose long-running feud has persisted verbally through the better part of the last decade and even became physical last season.

We love the Premier League, and once again it’s on. For at least a few days, the 2015 Community Shield turbo-charged a few storylines that will run through this term and dominate pockets of the upcoming season. Here’s our take on a few of them:

The game
Arsenal-Chelsea lacked a little substance in terms of the teams’ technique and physical condition. It’s little surprise, as the teams devised their preseason programs in order to be near peak fitness by this weekend and the players are a bit short of game sharpness. Arsenal had a slight edge on this front, having been settled in London for over a week, while Chelsea returned from its preseason tour of the United States a few days prior.

However, the game’s missing tempo had no drain on its drama. The result hung in the balance for the entirety of the 90 tense minutes of action. The Blues and Gunners maintained their mental sharpness throughout, and only Oxlade-Chamberlain’s moment of supreme quality provided the difference in the scoreline.

Fans can thank the master managers, who organized their teams well, ensuring a balanced, tactically adept performance from both sides.

The snub and fallout
Like any good game between Premier League powers, the drama continued after the final whistle.

We’re not sure why Wenger and Mourinho didn’t shake hands at the final whistle, as managers usually do after games. Mourinho sportingly and provocatively congratulated Arsenal players as they descended from the balcony following the trophy presentation. Wenger walked off the stairs last and brushed past Mourinho, creating the first flash-point of 2015-16.

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Mourinho, a serial winner, threw his runners-up medal into the crowd. He then derided Arsenal’s tactical approach during his post-game press conference, saying the Gunners were overly defensive and the best team lost.

Wenger explained his snub to the media, saying he walked down the stairs and saw “nothing special there,” referencing Mourinho’s self-given nickname “The Special One.”

We love it. All of it.

What’s next?

Arsenal finally snapped a 13-game winless streak against Chelsea. Arsenal’s players never felt what it was like to beat Chelsea. Now they do.

Arsenal signed Petr Cech from Chelsea this summer, and the veteran goalkeeper is expected to back-stop the Gunners’ attempt to de-throne Chelsea and win their first Premier League title since 2004. Cech looked like the real deal he has proven himself to be over the last decade.

Arsenal and Chelsea meet next on Sept. 19 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. We’ll discover whether the Gunners’ mental block remains or if the Community Shield win and Cech’s arrival cast it out of their camp.

Thumbnail photo via Jon Super/The Associated Press

Kevin Hughes
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