Sunday, August 2, 2015

It Happened In England: Arsenal takes the Community Shield

Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea
England has handed out it's first piece of silverware for the new season, and it's Arsenal taking the FA Community Shield for the second year in a row.

After a somewhat slow start, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 24th minute. The winger made left back Cesar Azpilicueta look silly with a juke move and well placed left footer in the upper 90.

The first real chances for Chelsea came from Ramires. First, in the 33rd, the Brazilian spun his way into space to launch a shot, but his effort was barely wide of the goal. A few minutes later, he headed a Loic Remy cross inches over the crossbar.

Arsenal kind of settled in to a very Chelsea like game in the first half. They got their goal, then sat back and defended. They attacked when the chance presented itself, but they concentrated on not allowing the defending league champions from scoring, and it worked well in the opening stanza. Each team only took three shots, with none of Chelsea's getting on target.

Chelsea was the main attacker in the first half. Arsenal did try to retain some possession early, but their efforts were short lived. To enhance their attack, Chelsea brought on Radamel Falcao for Loic Remy at halftime and Oscar on for Ramires shortly thereafter. Arsenal was content sitting back and allowing the fresh legs to come to them. This led to a lot more attempts from the Blues, while Arsenal's attacking pace never really changed.

As the half wore on, it looked more and more like Arsenal's defense would break. To counter this, in the final ten minutes Arsene Wenger brought on Kieran Gibbs at left back, shifting Nacho Monreal to center back, a position he has struggled at in the past. It didn't seem to matter, as they kept the Blues off the scoreboard despite a couple close calls.

Arsenal's big question mark coming into the season was their back line and their ability to prevent goals. It seems that the combination of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny should have what it takes, but how will they fare if one or both of those starters spend an extended period of time in the injury ward? Their defensive depth leaves a lot to be desired, and Wenger did very, very little to address that problem in the transfer window.

This result has to be considered a positive sign for the Gunners. Yes, it's only a glorified friendly and Chelsea was without Diego Costa, but the fact that they were able to keep a clean sheet in a semi-competitive game is important. Arsenal are probably the side best suited to challenging Chelsea's title defense, and if their defenders can play this well all year, and stay healthy, they are certainly considered legitimate contenders.

Chelsea, will probably brush this off as working off early season kinks in a low pressure format. They will be fine, will mount a formidable title defense, and this will be seen as little more than a small bump on their road to a repeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment