Arsenal look to complete a pre-season treble
Posted by betabonus on Friday, 4 August 2017
Arsenal do battle with fellow Londoners Chelsea on Sunday evening in the English football season curtain raiser, Community Shield, in a repeat of last season’s FA Cup finals.
The Gunners, the FA Cup winners, head into the Wembley Stadium showdown on the back of lifting two pre-season trophies, including International Champions Cup and Emirates Cup. Completing a treble before their Premier League opener against Leicester City is certain to act as a platform they can build on, as they head into a campaign that can save or break Arsene Wenger’s legacy.
The French manager has done decent business in the transfer market, bringing in a top-class fullback and striker in Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette, respectively. However, with Alexis Sanchez reportedly aiming to push through a deal away from the 13-time English champions and Mesut Ozil showing little to no intent to extend his stay beyond the nascent season, the usual hype surrounding new signings has been non-existent among the Arsenal faithful. Claiming Chelsea’s scalp to lift their third Community Shield in four seasons will, perhaps, encourage them to appreciate the new arrivals more.
Arsenal are without Shkodran Mustafi and Francis Coquelin, while midfielder Aaron Ramsey will likely be on the sidelines thanks to a muscular problem. Ozil is also reported to be battling a minor ankle problem, but the German is expected to be on the starting eleven. Alexis, on the other hand, only recently returned from an extended break, so it’s unlikely that the Arsenal manager starts him after a single training session.
Chelsea have made numerous eye-raising transfers this season, flogging Nemanja Matic for the second time, to Manchester United for £35 million. Joining him on his way out of Stamford Bridge are Kurt Zouma, John Terry, Bertrand Traore and Juan Cuadrado. In comes Antonio Rudiger, Alvaro Morata and Matic replacement in Tiemoue Bakayoyo.
The Blues, having won the English title last season, will look to keep up their fine form in the domestic soil; however, returning to Europe after a season’s absence, manager Antonio Conte is tasked with ensuring they perform well in the Europe’s premier cup competition as well. Having brought in three top class players for over £140 million, however, he must be confident of not only retaining the league title but also winning more titles than he did in his first season in London.
Chelsea have endured a topsy-turvy pre-season campaign so far. They obliterated local rivals Fulham and Arsenal, scoring a combined 11 goals against them and shipping only a measly two; however, they failed to build on the wins as they succumbed to defeats in International Champions Cup to Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. The Sunday’s fixture offers them a chance to make things right.
The Community Shield comes too soon for the injured Eden Hazard, Bakayoyo and Pedro. Diego Costa has been a subject of controversy, as he has been given the green light to look for potential suitors; the player himself is keen on a transfer, but has told the club he won’t move anywhere but back to former employers Atletico Madrid. In his absence, in-form Michy Batshuayi may start up front.
The team that manages to dominate the midfield is certain to emerge victors, as they both have somewhat equally talented players in the other two areas. Given Arsenal’s injuries and uncertainty over who will partner Granit Xhaka in midfield, one expects the Cesc Fabregas-N’Golo Kante central midfield to have the upper hand at the national stadium.