Since the Premier League’s initiation in 1992, 25 Community Shield matches have been played in what is ultimately a glorified friendly, not a season defining game as history proves. Of the winners, only seven teams went on to win the league, and of the winners, Chelsea (2) and Manchester United (5) have achieved this feat.
The most recent team was, in fact, Sir Alex Ferguson’s final title winning team of 2013, which saw off Wigan Athletic 2-0 for the season’s opener. With this previous stat in mind, do Chelsea and or Arsenal have what it takes to buck the trend and go on to win the league?
Chelsea will be looking for a more successful title defense this season, after Jose Mourinho’s title winning team of 2014/15 famously collapsed the next season, finishing 10th. With Antonio Conte in charge, this is unlikely of repeating, already finding battling players to commit futures with the club. While maintaining the quality within the squad, the Italian boss has brought in Antonio Rüdiger and Tiémoué Bakayoko to strengthen the squad.
More importantly, the Blues have kept hold of two of the best players in the league, which will clearly aid a title defense. Eden Hazard, who was in superb for the Blues last season, was given more freedom to attack in Conte’s 3-4-3. Of course, N’Golo Kante is worth mentioning, who adapted his passing game superbly after his move from Champions Leicester City and was everywhere defensively as usual.
Conte was ready to ship first choice striker Diego Costa without thinking otherwise, and now with the acquisition of Alvaro Morata, the loss of his 20 goals in the Premier League last season seems less bitter. Conte’s attempt to both cleanse and evolve the squad should ensure that determination is kept within the camp to defend this title. Furthermore, that he is able to maintain his reputation and his relationship with the dressing room, something Mourinho lost.
Michy Batshuayi was exceptionally impressive in pre-season, and after being sidelined last season could finally be given a chance in blue, with the addition of Champions League football. He scored twice against Arsenal in a 3-0 pre-season win, the 23-year-old looked active in front of goal with powerful but precise finishing. You could certainly make the argument that the Blues will be even better equipped up front this season.
It’s certainly the same case for the Gunners, who broke their record transfer fee to bring Alexandre Lacazette to the Emirates for £52.7m. The added firepower that the former Lyon striker brings could just be that missing piece that will return the Premier League to the north London club. Having not won a league title since the “Invincibles” of 2003/04, Lacazette will look to emulate Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s 30 goal season.
Amidst the mayhem of last season, Arsene Wenger’s two-year contract extension following his successful run in the FA Cup discontented some fans but the added security and knowledge of the club’s direction should steady the ship. Wenger has added well to his squad, plugging the obvious gaps within, especially at left back with Sead Kolasinac.
The Gunners are preparing to copycat the Blues’ three at the back triumphs; the formation deployed by Wenger at end of last season ultimately saved the Frenchman’s job. The formation has has proved somewhat successful in pre-season, a controversial Emirates Cup win saw Arsenal win the tournament on goals scored. Having beat Benfica 5-2, the loss to Sevilla was made redundant, unfortunately for Arsenal, the Community Shield isn’t won solely on goals scored.
A repeat fixture of what we saw in the FA Cup Final last term will certainly be an exciting one that’s for sure. During pre-season, Chelsea dispatched of Arsenal in a less competitive 3-0 win, but with Wembley watching and the world anticipating the outcome of the new season. There’s a lot more on the line than you might expect.