On Sunday, FA Cup winners Arsenal play Premier League champions Chelsea in the FA Community Shield. It’s the first ‘big’ game of the season, and although it is technically a friendly, there is a trophy and bragging rights on the line. Unsurprisngly, there has been a lot of media attention in the lead up to this fixture, most notably including José Mourinho’s war of words with Arsène Wenger. It’s just one of the five main things to look out for at Wembley on Sunday…
1. Petr Cech facing Chelsea
Arsenal’s £10 million signing is set to start for the first time against his former side. Cech’s 10 years at Chelsea ended with the ascendence of Courtois as first choice goalkeeper, and his decision to join London rivals and fellow title contenders Arsenal did not please Mourinho. John Terry said that the Czech would save Arsenal 12-15 points a season, and he could prove the decisive factor in Sunday’s fixture.
2. The Mourinho-Wenger tension
The summer break between seasons is often the time for outlandish predictions and light antagonism on the part of rival managers. The ongoing feud between Mourinho and Wenger is no different, with the Portuguese manager questioning Wenger and Arsenal’s image as a frugal club, pointing towards Arsenal’s spending over the last three seasons. It is perhaps an indication that Mourinho feels that this season Wenger’s side present a real danger to Chelsea’s title hopes. Watch out for the tension on the touchline this Sunday.
3. Cesc Fàbregas facing Arsenal
Even though Fabregas’ move to Stamford Bridge happened last year, his role in Sunday’s tie will be crucial. Arsenal fans have not quite got used to seeing their ex-captain in the blue shirt of Chelsea, and they will surely create a hostile environment for Fabregas when he steps onto the pitch at Wembley. Fabregas made the key assist for Costa’s goal against Arsenal last year, and will be looking to do the same again this weekend.
4. Falcao’s time to shine?
Chelsea’s acquisition of Falcao this summer turned a few heads, largely due to his hugely disappointing season last year at Manchester United. Since his move to the Premier League last year, Falcao has looked a shell of the player he was, and desperately struggled for form as well as the trust of van Gaal. However, Mourinho is one of only a few managers who will still be able to get the best out of the 29-year-old, and Chelsea’s decision to recruit the Colombian is far less a risk than it would be for other clubs thanks to Mourinho. It will be interesting to see how he fairs if given a starting role on Sunday.
5. A preview of things to come for Arsenal?
It has been a running theme for Arsenal fans for years – Arsenal come into the new season with renewed optimism that the year ahead presents a real chance to challenge for the title. Last year, Arsenal won the Community Shield comprehensively against Man City, but then suffered a horrible few months to effectively see their title challenge gone by Christmas. This year, though, there seems to be an air of confidence at the club not seen since the Invincibles. Signing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in two season has given them much optimism, and Sunday’s tie against Chelsea is the ultimate pre-season test to see how far Arsenal can go this season.