Arsenal vs Chelsea: Community Shield Preview
A very ‘British’ affair steeped in tradition, the Community Shield rolls around once more this weekend. From the blue corner, Antonio Conte’s championship-winning Chelsea side are set to show the league’s mere mortals just how much ground must be covered to wrest the title away from Stamford Bridge. They are 6/5 favourites to lift the Community Shield.
To universal surprise, Arsene Wenger will be fighting out of Wembley’s red corner for the eighth time in 20 years as manager of the 13-time FA Cup winners. His squad are 23/9 underdogs ahead of this clash, and not only by virtue of finishing five places lower than Chelsea in 2016/17. The English champions already have something of a psychological advantage over the FA Cup winners, facing their rivals just 15 days after meeting out a 3-0 thrashing in Beijing.
Although the International Champions Cup is seldom an indicator of fortunes to come, the match in question saw a confident and accomplished performance from Chelsea in an unfamiliar climate. As far as the English champions are concerned, a bonafide competitive start for Alvaro Morata is unlikely. Diego Costa will likely lead the line, despite being embroiled in a row with his manager and being linked to a Chinese Super League move.
As for Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette – priced at around 11/2 to open the scoring – is another debutant to watch closely. In a 2-1 Emirates Cup defeat to Sevilla on 30 July, the Frenchman opened his account with the Gunners. He is yet to play a full 90 minutes for Arsenal, but the early signs are promising for Lacazette. He will almost certainly lead the charge against former Premier League champions Leicester on the opening night of the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Two years ago, Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 in the Community Shield, although this fact will be a scant encouragement for Wenger’s side ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (17/2 in Correct Score market)
This should be a much closer encounter than the two clubs’ one-sided affair at the International Champions Cup. Arsenal look fit and ready to reclaim their hold on the top four, but Chelsea remain the team to beat on current form. It is worth remembering that in 2016/17, Conte’s men were just one win short of at least equalling the existing Premier League record tally of 95 points.