Source: Arsenal via Facebook
Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield was well fought for and well deserved. There are a few points that need to be discussed, but I, for one, am happy with the performance and fairly encouraged that the Gunners can shine this season. Arsene Wenger’s men have drawn first blood and, although it is dangerous to be optimistic regarding Arsenal, more silverware could be set to follow.
Arsenal came up against a strong Blues side that included some of the key players from their Premier League title onslaught last season. Last term’s player of the year N’Golo Kante was running around like the Duracell bunny he is, Marcus Alonso and Victor Moses were lively on the flanks, and the three-man back line of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill, which only conceded 33 goals last season, was still there. Antonio Conte was without Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, however, but the Arsenal absentees were perhaps more notable.
The Gunners lined up without Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, or Aaron Ramsey but still managed to put in an impressive display. Alexandre Lacazette showed some flashes of brilliance, hitting the post from a delicious early effort, and, once the Frenchman gets settled into England’s top flight, he could be dangerous. Granit Xhaka was perhaps the key man for Arsenal and he could be turning into the resolute midfield enforcer that we so desperately need. Let’s hope he can nail down a starting berth and steer clear of discipline problems. The other outstanding performer was Sead Kolasinac, who scored the equaliser and could turn out to be the signing of the season if he continues like this.
With the Sanchez situation still up in the air, we can now take some comfort in the fact that Arsenal may be able to cope with life without the Chilean. And, who knows, from that performance maybe the wantaway attacker is starting to believe that he could win some silverware with Arsenal. Wenger certainly has a habit of following up Community Shield victories with FA Cup trophies. He achieved it in the 2002-03, 2004-05, and the 2014-15 seasons and Arsenal are, at the time of writing, at odds of 8/1 in the FA Cup betting to do the same again.
The bookies have placed Arsenal as outsiders for the league title after last season’s poor showing but, without Champions League commitments for the first time in Wenger’s tenure in North London, surely we have a strong chance of proving everyone wrong. Wenger has no option but to go for at least a top four finish and qualify for Europe’s top competition that way so we can be assured he won’t do what Jose Mourinho did and throw everything into winning the Europa League. Therefore, if Wenger can strike on a perfect formula with his first team, he need not chop and change too much in the league. The key to Chelsea and Leicester City’s title wins was having well-settled sides, Arsenal should follow suit.
Yes, it’s still early days but Arsenal fans need to show some optimism and get behind the team. The divide in the fans in recent years has been detrimental to the team’s success so let’s put our differences aside and back Wenger and the boys to do it this time out. It’s time to believe.