Welcome to a special edition of “Who is it this week?” – the one-stop shop for everything you need to know ahead of every Arsenal match.
With the Premier League campaign just a week away, this Sunday sees Arsenal and Chelsea face off in the traditional curtain raiser: The FA Community Shield!
- Arsene Wenger leads Arsenal into a brand new campaign for the 21st time. Last season proved to be one of the toughest for the Frenchman – finishing outside the Top 4 for the first time and another early exit from the Champions League piled the pressure on the longest-serving boss in Arsenal’s history.
- But it all ended on a much happier note for Wenger – a seventh FA Cup triumph came at Wembley back in May. The win made Arsenal the most successful side and Wenger the most successful manager in FA Cup history. It also gave Arsenal a third Cup win in the last four years.
- Wenger takes charge of Arsenal in the Community Shield for the eighth time. The Frenchman has won six of them, including the last two appearances in 2014 and 2015.
- Antonio Conte is heading into his second season at the helm of the Stamford Bridge club. Last season, he lead Chelsea to their fifth Premier League title. In doing so, Conte became the fourth Italian boss to finish top of the Premier League.
- Something that undoubtedly worked in Chelsea’s favour last season was their lack of European football. But the Blues will be in the Champions League this year, adding more matches and another trophy for which they will be expected to compete. How will Conte handle the extra pressure?
- This will be Conte’s first taste of the Community Shield in England. He did win the Italian equivalent, the Supercoppa Italiana, on five occasions. Two of these were as a manager, though Conte was suspended for the 2012 Supercoppa.
How was your summer?
- It’s been one of the better transfer windows for Arsenal this summer. Kolasinac on a free and a top class striker in Lacazette look like being great additions to the first team. Among the departures were Szczesny to Juventus and Yaya Sanogo leaving on a free to Toulouse. There goes that chaos factor…
- The Gunners were busy building up those frequent flyer miles this summer. Games in Australia and China were followed by our own Emirates Cup in London last weekend. The pre-season highlights included a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich and a resounding win over Benfica on the first day of the Emirates Cup. A particular low was a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea three weeks ago in Beijing.
- The Champions have been spending big this summer with a view to not only holding on to their domestic crown but also to competing on the European stage. Alvaro Morata (£58 million), Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40 million) and Antonio Rudiger (£29 million) have all arrived at the Bridge.
- The aforementioned pre-season win over Arsenal was one of two wins for Chelsea as they prepared for their Premier League defence. After that, they suffered two defeats in Singapore – 3-2 to Bayern Munich and 2-1 to Inter Milan.
The Community Shield
- The Community/Charity Shield is traditionally contested by the winners of the Premier League and the holders of the FA Cup, though this has not always been the case.
- The first Charity Shield was played in 1908 and featured Man United (1st Division Champions) against QPR (Southern League Champions). It finished 1-1 and is the only time the Shield went to a replay.
- There were various formats to the Community Shield over the years, sometimes seeing a Professional XI take on an Amateur XI. The 1921 Shield between Spurs and Burnley was the first to feature the League Champions vs FA Cup winners format.
- In 1930, that format returned and has remained the Community Shield standard to this day, albeit with a few exceptions along the way. For instance, the 1950 Shield was played between an England World Cup XI and an England XI that had toured Canada that same summer.
- Another notable exception involved Arsenal in 1971. The Gunners had won The Double the previous season but due to previously arranged pre-season matches, they couldn’t take part in the Community Shield. So the match was instead contested by Division Two winners Leicester City and FA Cup runners-up Liverpool. The Foxes won the game 1-0 and lifted the Community Shield – despite having never won either the Division One title or FA Cup at that stage in their history!
- Since 1974, the Shield has been regularly played at Wembley – though it was hosted at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff during the Wembley redevelopment between 2001 and 2006. Another exception was the 2012 Community Shield between Chelsea and Man City. The match was moved to Birmingham due to the 2012 Olympic football final taking place at Wembley on the same weekend.
- Up until 1993, the Community Shield could finish as a draw and result in both teams holding the trophy for six months (The 1974 Shield was decided on penalties but all draws after that resulted in a shared trophy. I don’t know why). This was remedied in ’93 with the introduction of penalties to settle the game on the day. The 1991 Community Shield between Arsenal and Spurs was the last one to be shared. Interestingly enough, Arsenal were also involved in the first Community Shield to go to penalties, two years later against Man United, but the Gunners lost 5-4 on spot-kicks.
- This will be just the third time Arsenal and Chelsea have played each other in the Community Shield. The sides have one win each so far.
- The first time they met in the Shield was as recent as 2005. It was played in the Millennium Stadium and featured the hostile backdrop of the whole Ashley Cole, tapping-up affair. Cole played for Arsenal on the day but left for Chelsea the following summer. The Blues won 2-1 that day, thanks to a brace from Didier Drogba. Cesc Fabregas had gotten one back for Arsenal but it wasn’t enough.
- Arsenal met Chelsea again in the 2015 Community Shield and this time it went a lot better for the Gunners. A great Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain strike won the game and provided Arsene Wenger with his first competitive victory over Jose Mourinho.
- In all, Arsenal have played in 21 Community Shield matches. The Gunners have won 14 (13 outright wins, 1 shared) and have lost 7. We’ve also won the only two finals we’ve played in since 2005.
- Chelsea have played in 11 Community Shield finals, winning just four. Seven of their appearances have come since 2005 and they’ve actually got a fairly poor record in that time. The Blues have won just twice in those seven games. Their last win came in 2009 and they’ve lost three since then.
- Arsenal dominated the Community Shield in the 1930’s, playing in seven finals between 1930 and 1938 – and winning five of them! The Shield wasn’t played again until 1948 due to the Second World War, but Arsenal were involved again and beat Man United 4-3.
- Arsene Wenger has lost just two of his eight Community Shield appearances. The two defeats came in 2003 (to Man United) and 2005 (to Chelsea).
- Before being permanently held at Wembley, the Community Shield was usually hosted in neutral venues (though it was often held at the home of one of the teams competing). In total, the Shield has been played in seventeen different stadiums over the years (not including Wembley and the Millennium Stadium).
- The most frequently used of these stadiums were Stamford Bridge (10) and Highbury (7). Arsenal actually played in five of the finals hosted at Highbury, winning four of them. Chelsea, however, featured in just two of the finals played at the Bridge. Arsenal contested a Community Shield at the home of Chelsea in 1930, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.
- In total, the Community Shield has been shared 11 times. Arsenal and Spurs were the last to share the trophy, in 1991. The first time it was shared was in 1949. Portsmouth and Wolves played out a 1-1 draw – at Highbury!
- Chelsea (4), Man City (4) and Leeds (2) are the only teams to have won the Community Shield more than once that have never shared the trophy. Arsenal have the highest outright win percentage out of all the teams who have shared the Shield. Just one of Arsenal’s 14 wins have been shared.
- The 1999 Community Shield saw Arsenal take on Man United. The Gunners were in the middle of a transfer saga, with Nicolas Anelka having vowed to never play for Arsenal again and being on the verge of joining Real Madrid. Arsenal were also without Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars due to injury so Freddie Ljungberg started up top with the only actual striker in our squad, Nwankwo Kanu. We ended up winning it 2-1, Ray Parlour got the winner. How different things could have been though… Lining up for United that day was Andy Cole who, eight years earlier, made a substitute appearance for Arsenal against Spurs in the 1991 Community Shield. It was one of just a couple of appearances for Cole in the Arsenal shirt. He went on to score 187 Premier League goals, most of them for Man United. Such is the nature of football, he was a youngster that went on to better things elsewhere. In the days after the 1999 Community Shield, Anelka got his move to Madrid and Arsenal replaced him with another French forward, Thierry Henry. He did ok…
- As far as I can tell, this is the 7th time that the Community Shield has been a repeat of the previous season’s FA Cup Final. Bad omen for Arsenal perhaps, but in the previous six instances of the Shield being an FA Cup final repeat, the team that won the Cup has never won the Shield outright (two of them resulted in draws and the Shield was shared). The last time we got a repeat of the FA Cup Final was in 2007.
- They say the winners of the Community Shield “draw first blood”, so to speak. “Gain a psychological advantage heading into the new season” and all that. But do they really? Well if we’re talking just about winning the League, there’s not that much of an advantage at all. In the Premier League era, there have been just seven occasions where the winner of the Community Shield has gone on to win the League title. Man United have done it four times with Chelsea accounting for the other three. To add to this, there have been six times where the Community Shield runner-up went on to lift the Premier League that same season. Arsenal did this once, losing the Shield to Man United but winning the League in 2003-04. It’s been done once since, by Man City in 2011-12. So does winning the Community Shield make you more likely to be crowned Premier League champions? Not really. On the flip side, losing the Shield doesn’t entirely bring an end to your season before it starts either. All I’m saying is, don’t start sharpening those pitchforks should the result go against us on Sunday…
- Maybe the “psychological benefit” of winning the Community Shield is on a bit of a smaller scale? There have been 12 occasions where the Premier League champion wasn’t even involved in the Community Shield at the start of the season, so what about those teams? Well, in the 12 seasons where neither side competing in the Shield won the League, the team that did win the Shield went on to a higher League finish than their opponents on nine occasions. Yes, one of these is the season Man United beat Wigan in the Community Shield after the Latics had been relegated from the Premier League the previous season but that doesn’t change the point much.
- So what conclusion can be drawn from those last two points? Well, if we win the Community Shield then we might win the League. But if we don’t win the Community Shield, that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t win the League. And even if we do win the Community Shield, there’s a good chance we’ll at least finish ahead of Chelsea! Then again, if we don’t win the Community Shield, don’t completely rule out the possibility of us finishing ahead of Chelsea in the League. What I’m trying to say is, just because one might happen doesn’t mean the other definitely won’t happen nor does it mean that it definitely will happen. You follow? Me neither… Is the word “Shield” starting to look weird anyone else?
How about some goals?
- Enough of that nonsense! We’ve been in the Community Shield eight times under Arsene Wenger, winning six of them. Here’s a trip down memory lane…
- 1998 – Arsenal 3-0 Man United: Marc Overmars, Christopher Wreh and Nicolas Anelka scored for the Gunners at Wembley. The result was a first Shield defeat for United in 13 years, they’d won it five times (one shared) since their loss to Everton in 1985.
- 2002 – Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool: Just like in 1998, Arsenal were Double winners heading into the Community Shield in 2002 and took on League runners-up Liverpool. New signing Gilberto Silva, fresh after playing every minute of Brazil’s victorious World Cup campaign, scored the only goal on his Arsenal debut.
- 2003 – Man United 1-1 Arsenal: Alright, we lost this one on penalties but Thierry Henry’s free-kick was pretty good and worth having another look at. Note Mikael Silvestre getting a goal…
- 2004 – Arsenal 3-1 Man United: Gilberto Silva again finds the net in the Community Shield. Jose Reyes and a Mikael Silvestre own goal gave Arsenal the win in Cardiff.
- 2014 – Arsenal 3-0 Man City: The Gunners romped to victory over the League champions. A belter from Giroud was the pick of the goals. Cazorla and Ramsey also got on the score sheet. Sanogo was his usual chaotic self…
- 2015 – Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea: A great striker from Oxlade-Chamberlain was enough to win this one for Arsenal. Hopefully, we’ll get something similar when the sides meet again in the 2017 Community Shield.
And that’s that…
So there it is – everything you could possibly want to know ahead of the 2017 Community Shield at Wembley. Arsenal will be hoping to win the Shield for the third time in four years. A repeat of that memorable FA Cup Final in May would be a great way to start the season. Kick-off is at 2pm (GMT) on Sunday.
I’ll be back next week as we look ahead to the big kick-off – Arsenal start their Premier League campaign against Leicester City!
Thanks for reading!