Arsenal end Chelsea jinx by clinching Community Shield
Arsenal and Arsene Wenger ended their Chelsea, and specifically Jose Mourinho-managed Blues, curse in some style with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Wembley, a ground which has become incredibly fruitful for the Gunners recently, to snatch the Community Shield.
Beginning their season as they ended the last, by lifting a trophy, the north Londoners defeated their capital rivals for the first time in nine clashes across all competitions. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s scorcher also spectacularly stopped a five-game goal drought against Chelsea, and was a strike deserving of silverware.
As expected, the Blues and Gunners began this tussle with trepidation, taking small jabs at each other to suss out the strengths and weaknesses that had developed over pre-season, though Arsenal looked by far the more aggressive and energetic.
It took Wenger’s men until the 22nd minute to truly trouble their London foes, as Theo Walcott, taking centre stage and leading a fluid forward line with Olivier Giroud benched for yet another cup clash, headed Mesut Ozil’s set piece straight at Thibaut Courtois.
Yet placid Chelsea should have taken notice of that flicker of threatening forward play as, just moments later, an electric Oxlade-Chamberlain, fed intelligently by Walcott who came deep to collect, danced his way into the box past an unusually indecisive Caeser Azpilicueta and thumped a fantastic finish into the top left corner.
Supporters in the stadium hoping for a swift reaction from Mourinho’s boys would have been disappointed, as Chelsea continued to toil, lacking attacking expression and urgency. The Blues finally brightened around the 30th minute mark, however, seeing two chances spurned in quick succession.
A quiet Eden Hazard fluffed hard working Brazilian wing wizard Willian’s work down the right flank, before compatriot Ramires curled a shot wide past Petr Cech who, perhaps disconcertingly for his former teammates, had little to do while manning the Gunners’ posts.
Ramires then further highlighted Chelsea’s toothless display by being the only man to meet a lacklustre Loic Remy’s cross in the box, predictably firing over, much to Mourinho’s apparent dismay.
The Blues were lucky not be punished for their lack of potency almost immediately. Aaron Ramsey ruffled Courtois’ side netting, before Arsenal’s exciting and expertly enacted one-touch passing split Chelesea’s rearguard open just before the break, with only Branislav Ivanovic’s presence stopping Nacho Monreal meeting Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ball to the far post.
Always one to react quickly, Mourinho replaced Remy at half-time, allowing Radamel Falcao his chance to to stake a claim to the striker spot in injured Diego Costa’s absence, with Oscar for Ramires another attack-minded switch following shortly afterward.
Chelsea did book-up after that injection on fresh faces, with ex-Gunner Cesc Fabregas craftily unlocking his former employer’s defence in the 60th minute, but an over-eager Hazard was wasteful yet again, blazing the ball over the bar.
Wenger soon shuffled his own pack, bringing Giroud off the bench for Walcott, and the France forward looked threatening from the get-go, though it was the Blues who had the chance to draw blood next, with Cech powerfully palming away an Oscar free-kick, much to the delight of Arsenal fans.
Chelsea were soon predictably piling on the pressure as the Community Shield clock ticked down, with Oscar and Falcao both failing to make contact as a loose ball skimmed across Arsenal’s area. Yet the Gunners remained largely comfortable, even as it became a battle of brute strength, with Ivanovic joining the attack up top.
Alas, it was too little to late for Mourinho, with Wenger taking his team to collect the medals this time. Expect fireworks when they meet again.