The Premier League’s opening round of games is closer than ever, with the traditional curtain raiser, the Community Shield, being contested by Chelsea and Arsenal, and won once again by the FA Cup holders.
Chelsea fans may be more concerned over the fitness of Diego Costa (so what else is new) than their loss to Arsenal, but the north London side were elated, with selfies galore being taken after their win, and delusional Arsenal fans proclaiming ‘London is Red’, failing to understand that Chelsea have not only lifted four Premier League titles since their last one, but that the Blues have also won a Champions League in that time, and consider the Gunners to be their slightly less important of Spurs.
Both sides learnt lessons from a game they are viewing with differing importance, but just what were they?
Arsenal finally have some steel
Quite if it is enough to see them through a 38 game season remains to be seen, but against Chelsea, the Gunners showed a backbone that has not previously been seen from them, and even managed to grind out a 1-0 win. While that is irony at its finest, it certainly showed that they can defend – not that the Chelsea attack offered much – and that they may even be able to close out the games that cost them so dearly last term.
Arsene Wenger may have been unwilling to compromise his principles and love for free flowing football in seasons gone by, but the time has come for a different approach and the Frenchman prioritised winning above all else on Sunday – and it paid off.
Cech will bring a solidity to the Arsenal side that we haven’t previously seen, and the organisational aspect that the Czech International will offer could be as vital as his last gasp saves when it comes to Arsenal’s penchant for conceding sloppy goals.
No Costa, big problems
Chelsea looked toothless towards the end of last season when they were forced to play with Didier Drogba up top, and while their fans were expecting a big money forward to arrive this summer, they got Radamel Falcao instead.
The jury may still be out on Falcao considering he has only had a week of proper pre-season training with the Blues, but one player who showed exactly why Chelsea fans wanted another forward this summer was Loic Remy.
The Frenchman was utterly woeful, being flagged offside time and time again, much to the frustration of Mourinho, Chelsea fans and the players. It was pure laziness and showed exactly why he fails to convince when given a chance – and fans can be forgiven for thinking that unless Costa can stay fit, they will seriously struggle for goals – in fact, so poor was Remy, that many Chelsea supporters were actually calling for Falcao to be given a chance, and would rather see him start their opening game of the Premier League season should Costa be unavailable.
Courtois is the best in the league
And that’s without considering if David De Gea will stay in England or not.
Chelsea had two star performers during the loss, and Courtois was one of them, having far more to do than his counterpart and former colleague, but doing it all perfectly, to deny Arsenal a second goal. Cech may have taken the headlines with his three trophies in three games, but it was Courtois who showed exactly why Chelsea were so willing to sell Cech.
If the Belgian keeps up his form, the Blues will be as solid this term as they were last time out, and a second season with Courtois in net and a greater understanding between the stopper and the back four will only make Chelsea a better side.
Chelsea’s other star performer of the day was Willian, who was lively and showed exactly why he is rated so highly by Jose Mourinho – although an end product is still lacking from the player, and after watching Chelsea’s forward line, that will concern Blues fans.
Cech is the signing of the summer (sorry Radamel, it wasn’t ever going to be you was it)
Did anyone not already think this? For those who didn’t, confirmation has been handed down tenfold during not only pre-season, but also during the Community Shield. The Arsenal keeper did not have too much to do, but what he did have to handle, he did with confidence and an assurance we haven’t seen in the Arsenal goal since the days of Jens Lehmann.
Chelsea’s big signing of the summer, Falcao, didn’t do much to impress, although managed to trend on Twitter, being mocked for failing to show anything more than he did during his time in a Manchester United shirt.
Blues fans will be expecting more from the Colombian once he has settled into the side, but they have bigger issues right now, namely the lack of chances they created and the form of Cesar Azpilicueta, who has been outstanding in a Chelsea shirt over the last couple of years – but has now made two mistakes in two games, and cost the Blues two goals.
The hoodoo is broken
Arsene Wenger has finally done it, and it only took 14 tries. He has beaten Jose Mourinho and while both managers tried to downplay the significance of the result, the fact of the matter is, the win was huge for Arsenal and it is one that will allow the players to go into next season with a huge amount of confidence, and try to put memories of painful defeats by Mourinho’s men to bed.
Given Arsenal also lifted the Community Shield this time last season, beating Manchester City 3-0, fans would be wise to realise just how little it really does tell you about the up coming season, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and Arsenal now have one over Jose Mourinho.