Arsenal lifted the Community Shield for the third time in four years on Sunday after securing a deserved victory over a sluggish Chelsea side. It came seven weeks after they beat Antonio Conte’s men in the same stadium to win the FA Cup and provides a nice psychological boost going into the new Premiership season. Arsenal finished 18 points behind the Blues last campaign so there is a lot of ground to make up, but the signs are very encouraging. Here are five things we learned from the Arsenal’s Community Shield victory.
Sead Kolasinac could become a cult hero at The Emirates
Pep Guardiola has blown more than £100 million on signing full-backs this summer, but a man signed by Arsene Wenger on a free transfer could eclipse the lot. Kolasinac came on for the injured Per Mertesacker a third of the way through the game and ended up running the show. He burst forward with remarkable pace and energy, he was strong in the tackle and great in the air. With Arsenal trailing 1-0, he nodded past Thibaut Courtois to equalise and force a penalty shootout, which the Gunners won with ease. He was the hero on the day, but what stood out most was his strength. Kolasinac has shoulders like an ox and he sent Pedro flying with the tiniest of barges, showing he is not a man to be messed with. Arsenal need more characters like him and he could soon find adulation among the fans.
Alexandre Lacazette looks like an upgrade on Arsenal’s current crop
Lacazette had the best goal scoring record in France since Jean-Pierre Papin in the late 1980s and early 1990s and he commanded a huge transfer fee. But it looks to be £52 million well spent as Lacazette is just what Arsenal need up front. Olivier Giroud is a decent finisher but outrageously slow, while Danny Welbeck is quick but far from lethal in front of goal, and there are signs that Lacazette could fuse the best parts of both of them to form an exciting whole. He was unlucky to be denied by the post with a first half strike, and there were shades of Thierry Henry about his technique. He may not be the next Henry, but if he could emulate someone like Ian Wright or Nicolas Anelka, he would be a vast upgrade on what the Gunners already have.
Granit Xhaka is growing in composure
The Swiss was a £35 million flop last season, frequently getting himself sent off, giving away penalties, losing the ball and mistiming tackles. But he improved exponentially towards the end of the campaign, starring against Chelsea in the cup final, and he seems to have continued his upward curve. He walked off with the Man of the Match award in the Community Shield final after laying on Kolasinac’s goal and bossing the midfield with an assured range of passing and a quiet authority. He is not the holding midfielder Arsenal fans were expecting, but he is instead capable of negating the loss of the crocked Santi Cazorla.
Arsenal can get more than 74 points this season
Last season Arsenal broke the record for the most points a team finishing fifth had ever accrued. Arsenal’s 75 points saw them finish one below fourth-placed Liverpool and the Gunners missed their usual top four spot for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year tenure. To be on the safe side this time around Wenger has set his side a target of achieving a minimum of 85 points so that they can challenge for the title. In the latest sports spread betting from Sporting Index you can buy Arsenal at 74 points and that looks a great option as they should comfortably exceed that tally. The Gunners typically get off to a strong start and challenge when there is not a major summer tournament and there seems to be positivity in the dressing room at present. Arsenal have a strong squad and a huge focus on the Premiership so it would not be a surprise to see them get more than 80 points.
Chelsea are in disarray
Beating Chelsea at Wembley twice in seven weeks is something to savour for any Arsenal fan. The Blues look out of sorts, undercooked and underwhelming at present, and they may struggle to wade out of their malaise. If they continue like this it means one less title rival for Arsenal to contend with. Last time Arsenal beat them in the Community Shield, back in 2015, the Blues finished 10th. Here’s hoping for a repeat of that.