Arsenal take on Chelsea in what promises to be an absolutely mouth-watering Community Shield match on Sunday. The Gunners have the form, while history is on the Blues’ side. There is a lot of pride involved, but this game could also give us an idea of how well these two teams are shaping up ahead of their respective Premier League campaigns, which begin next week.
There are enticing individual battles to look forward to, which will have a bearing on which way this game goes. There are match-winners all over the pitch for both sides, and the tide could turn very quickly if a couple of them are allowed to dictate.
We pick out 3 key contests which is sure to keep us engrossed throughout. This game has a lot riding on it, especially for Arsenal, as they look to end their jinx against Jose Mourinho’s men.
1) Francis Coquelin vs Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas faced his old side twice last season and controlled proceedings throughout, especially in the game at Stamford Bridge, where he also provided a 60-yard assist for Diego Costa to seal a 2-0 win. The Spaniard though, will have his work cut out against Coquelin, whose presence made Arsenal tick in the second half of last season. The defensive midfielder was introduced midway through the campaign and was an instant hit. His fantastic tackling coupled with some great vision and passing ability has given the Gunners the bite that they have lacked in the centre of the park for so long.
He will be assigned with keeping Fabregas quiet, and will not give the Chelsea man a moment’s peace on the ball.
2) Mathieu Debuchy/Hector Bellerin vs Eden Hazard
It remains to be seen who Wenger picks as his right-back on Sunday, but neither Debuchy or Bellerin will be volunteering for the job, that’s for sure. Whoever plays will be up against the best player in the Premier League in Eden Hazard, and the Belgian is set to have a big impact on this game. Bellerin burst into the scene last year with some brilliant performances, but the more experienced head of Debuchy may be preferred. The Frenchman played with Hazard at Lille and will have a general idea of his game.
Keeping the Chelsea winger completely quiet is close to impossible, but controlling his threat and not allowing him to get into the game too much is something the Arsenal right-back will have to do. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If only.
3) Petr Cech vs Diego Costa
All eyes will on Petr Cech as he lines up against the club he spent 11 years and won 13 trophies with. His duel with Costa is very much a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. The Spaniard was one of the standout strikers in the league last season, while Cech is one of the all-time greats. The veteran will want to get off to a good start a d couple of saves early on will do him good. Costa, on the other hand, has shaken off a hamstring injury sustained last week to be declared fit. He makes an impact in some way or the other every time he plays, but it remains to be seen whether we witness the pyrotechnics of the histrionics, both of which he is very adept at.
Notable mention: Arsene Wenger vs Jose Mourinho
This is a rivalry that has grown more and more personal over the years, but the past record suggests that it isn’t a contest at all. Of the 13 meetings between the two managers, 6 games have been drawn and Mourinho’s side have won 7. Wenger has always been outsmarted tactically by the Portuguese, and will still be hurting from the 6-0 thrashing Chelsea handed out to his side in his 1000th game in charge of Arsenal.
The duo came to blows on the touchline last season, but Wenger will now have to find a way to make his side land the right punches on the Blues. The Gunners are certainly the side with the better form and confidence, but the psychological battle is firmly on Mourinho’s side.