The countdown begins to this year’s Community Shield which takes place on Sunday, with preparations at Wembley already underway. Once again, fate has decided to pit one of London’s and England’s greatest rivals against each other – Chelsea and Arsenal, only a few months after their last competitive match in the FA Cup final.
Despite a tumultuous season, Arsene Wenger has managed to remain at the helm of the club, keeping his core squad intact with the addition of only a few players. Sead Kolasinac was Arsenal’s first signing, having been brought in from Schalke. The Bosnian defender, known for his fast pace and robust physique, is a significant upgrade on the Gunner’s defence and will bully teams in attack and defence up and down the left flank.
Their second addition, Alexandre Lacazette, is their most expensive signing in history with the Frenchman expected to significantly bolster Arsenal’s attacking options ahead of the new season.
Whether these players, along with the fact that Sanchez and Ozil are increasingly likely to stay, will be enough to finally allow Wenger’s side to mount a title charge this season remain to be seen, with the first real test only 4 days away.
On the other hand, the team from West London have endured a mixed transfer season so far. With the likes of John Terry, Chalobah, Ake, Begovic, Loftus-Cheek, Matic and soon Diego Costa all leaving the club on loans or permanent deals.
There will be a large void left to fill by Blues head coach Antonio Conte. Significant reinforcements have already been brought in, however, with Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and record-signing Alvaro Morata all joining up with the team before the end of our pre-season Asia tour.
Willy Caballero, arriving on a free transfer from Manchester City, is the fourth addition to our squad, the experienced Argentine goalkeeper providing competition to Courtois. While, in my opinion, all these players represent an upgrade on the players they are replacing, there are still a few gaps needed to be filled in terms of squad depth.
As it is, the team is too thin to face four major competitions this year and more signings are expected to be made in the coming weeks. The Italian tactician will definitely look to emulate Chelsea’s league success last season and build on it with successful campaigns in the Cup and Champions League.
Both teams will want to start this year’s campaign on a high, and a Community Shield trophy, regardless of it’s actual significance, will provide added motivation for either team ahead of the 2017/18 season.
While Wenger has most of his players ready and fit for Sunday’s season opener, Conte will be without Hazard, Bakayoko and possibly Pedro as they continue to recover from injuries.
All in all, the clash will surely be more competitive than in recent years, with Arsenal looking to get revenge for their defeat in the friendly a couple weeks ago when Chelsea thrashed them 3-0.