It is often said that the FA Community Shield – the traditional curtain-raiser to every English league season – cannot be used as a true barometer for the coming season. That doesn’t stop the excitement from reaching fever pitch when the match comes around, though.
The game signals that the new season is finally with us – the long months of a football-free summer are now at an end. And, as it features the Premier League champions against the winners of the FA Cup, the quality of football – meaningless friendly or not – is often of the highest standard.
This year, two London sides are competing for the FA Community Shield. Jose Mourinho’s highly-effective Chelsea side ended last season as champions with a comfortable eight-point cushion over their nearest rivals for the league title, Manchester City, after a dominating season in which the Londoners lost just three Premier League encounters.
Arsenal, meanwhile, successfully defended their FA Cup with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the showcase final last May with goals from Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud demolishing Villa. The win meant that The Gunners have now won the FA Cup a record twelve times.
Where Arsene Wenger’s men will also be looking to successfully defend their FA Community Shield, the main aim will be to use the match as a springboard for the new season. Last year, they beat Manchester City 3-0 in the match, a performance which left the Frenchman purring about his side.
Unfortunately, the win was not followed by the expected results in the Premier League, winning just two of their first eight games, and it took until October before the side built up any consistency. Things didn’t go to plan initially in the Champions League either. The Gunners lost their opening group game against Borussia Dortmund but easily qualified for the last 16 from there on out, winning all but one of their remaining group matches, only to be beaten by Monaco over two legs in the first knock out round.
Pre-season has gone well for Arsenal, with wins over a Singapore Select XI, Everton and a 6-0 rout of Olympique Lyonnais. Nevertheless, Wenger will be wary of a similar situation this season.
Chelsea’s pre-season has seen a mixed bag of results so far – a 4-2 defeat to New York Red Bulls was followed by beating Paris Saint Germain on penalties. Mourinho will not be too worried – his side knows that the most important matches are yet to come and that it is a good start to the league campaign that is necessary, not winning pre-season matches.
That being said, the chance to get one over his old adversary Arsene Wenger will be one that he will relish, as will supporters lucky enough to have tickets for the match, which is a London derby, after all. The ticket info can be found on Ticketbis website.
Money raised from the FA Community Shield is distributed to charities and good causes across the country. Arsenal and Chelsea will receive £25,000 for a charity or good cause of their choice.