Arsenal lift Community Shield after beating Chelsea in penalty shootout
Arsene Wenger calls for 'united and together' squad as Gunners boss looks ahead to Premier League opener against Leicester City
06 August, 2017 — By Paul Cowling
ARSENAL 1, CHELSEA 1
(Arsenal win 4-1 on penalties)
ARSENE Wenger quickly set his sights on Arsenal’s opening Premier League match after beating Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley this afternoon (Sunday).
“We are happy tonight, but let’s focus on Leicester,” said the Gunners boss after Arsenal saw their season lift off with a penalty shootout victory over the league champions.
The Gunners, who triumphed over the Blues to lift last season’s FA Cup, came from behind to equalise in normal time and take the match to spotkicks using the new ABBA format.
“I am very happy because we wanted to win the game. The quality was very good and both sides gave everything,” said Wenger.
Wenger suggested the match intensity was ideal preparation for the upcoming league season.
“Every game in the Premier League is a battle, like today,” he added.
Before kick-off all Arsenal fans could talk about was who wasn’t in the matchday squad, with both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil not on the teamsheet.
After the match Wenger revealed that Sanchez was “still short of match preparation”.
He added: “Ozil had a kick on his ankle and it is swollen. He and Ramsey have a little chance of being fit for Leicester.”
But even without the trio Arsenal were sharp from the start.
On six minutes Alex Iwobi wriggled into the box but his hopeful cross bobbled off N’Golo Kante and trickled away.
Then on 22 minutes Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky not to open the scoring when his close-range curler clipped the right-hand post. At the other end, Petr Cech saved well from Victor Moses and Pedro.
Arsenal had to re-organise when Per Mertesacker was forced off with a facial injury. The German veteran ended up needing stitches for a gash above his right eyebrow.
New Bosnian signing Sead Kolasinac slid into the left of a back four, as Arsenal continued to dominate a low-key first half.
But the game livened up right at the start of the second period. The Gunners failed to clear a corner and were punished on 47 minutes when Moses beat the offside trap to run on and slot the ball past Cech.
“When we went 1-0 down, we didn’t panic,” said Wenger. “We kept control of the game and came back well. It was a continuation of the end of last season.”
The Gunners did respond well. On 60 minutes Mohamed Elneny’s cross turned into a swerving goal-bound shot that Thibaut Courtois did well to tip over the bar for an Arsenal corner.
Then on 75, Granit Xhaka’s long-range piledriver was somehow tipped away by the Belgian keeper.
In the 80th minute Pedro was sent off for a high tackle from behind on Elneny.
From the resulting free-kick Kolasinac became an instant cult hero for Gunners’ fans when he leapt to head the ball into the right-hand corner of the net to make it 1-1.
“Kolasinic was outstanding when he came on,” said Wenger.
Chelsea’s big-money signing Alvaro Morata should have restored his side’s lead, but his header drifted well wide.
After five minutes of stoppage time, referee Bobby Madley blew for the end of the game and a penalty shootout.
After Gary Cahill scored for Chelsea, Theo Walcott levelled. Next up was Nacho Monreal who fired past Courtois to put the Gunners in the box-seat at 2-1.
Courtois stepped up for Chelsea’s next penalty, but he fired over hopelessly.
With Morata also missing, it was left to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and then Olivier Giroud who both scored to give the Gunners an unassailable 4-1 lead and a well deserved victory.
“We want to be united and together throughout the season,” beamed Wenger. “It is a win, and it’s an encouragement, but it’s not more than that.
“I want to get the balance and the confidence in the team, as we have had some bad starts to previous seasons. But we have the same spirit, so let’s see where we can go.”
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Mertesacker (Kolasinac, 31), Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck (Nelson, 87) Lacazette (Giroud, 66), Iwobi (Walcott, 66).
Subs not used: Ospina, Maitland-Niles, Willock.