Five Takeaways From The 2017 FA Community Shield

Arsenal triumped 4-1 in penalties over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield, as the new ABBA penalty system was trialed. An even match ended 1-1 in regular time with Victor Moses and Sead Kolasanic providing the goals for either side. The first 45 was a tense affair with little by way of chances afforded to either side. The best chance fell to new boy Alexandre Lacazette, but he struck the post after a promising counter attack.

Chelsea broke the deadlock 3 minutes into the second half. A corner cleared up into the air was headed back into the mix by Gary Cahill before being poked home by an opportunistic Victor Moses. Chelsea continued to grow into the match before a straight red card to Pedro in the 80th minute. A poor tackle to Mohamed Elneny’s achilles saw the Spaniard off, and reportedly to miss the first match of the season with a subsequent violent conduct ban. The ensuing freekick was floated in by Granit Xhaka, with Kolasinac heading home unmarked. In penalties, Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missed the target for the blues. Olivier Giroud tucked home the decisive penalty for Arsenal.

Rudiger is not ready… yet

Although this was only a “friendly”, there were a few important points to takeaway for either side. The first being with Chelsea new boy Antonio Rudiger. Signed from Roma this summer, Rudiger joined preseason relatively late. Brought on as a sub to see out the match, his mismarking on Kolasinac allowed Arsenal to equalize. His familiarity with Conte’s system will come with time, but for now it was not quite good enough. The necessity of a higher line and quick stepping in transition is crucial for Chelsea’s back three. Do not write the German international off after one match.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is Key

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been linked with Chelsea for much of the summer as contract talks stall with the Gunners. But the Ox could be a crucial figure for both sides. Deployed as a left wingback, he linked up well with Danny Welbeck for most of the match. Keeping a versatile figure capable of playing in midfield or out wide should be crucial to Arsene Wenger if he intends to continue with the 3-4-3. However, the young Englishman should be just as valuable to Chelsea. With only a year left on his deal and Conte clamoring for squad players, he is the perfect addition.

ABBA Format is… Odd

The Community Shield debuted the new ABBA format for penalty shootouts in England. One team shoots, the other shoots twice, then the first team shoots twice and so on. Supposedly to reduce the “mental pressure” associated with shooting second, the ABBA alternates “first shooter” per round. Potentially it makes the shootout more momentum based, as Thibaut Courtois’ wayward effort was followed up by Alvaro Morata also missing the target. The format feels unnatural, maybe by way of tradition, but it seems to alleviate much of the tension of a shootout.

Morata or Michy the Main Man

Alvaro Morata replaced Michy Batshuayi in the 75th minute today. Batshuayi had a mostly fruitless afternoon, but put in a shift defensively. Morata came on and offered more impetus going forward. His hold up play is something that Chelsea have lacked, allowing the wingers to combine much more effectively. Despite Batshuayi’s like-ability for the fanbase, Morata will be Conte’s main man when fully fit. That being said, Conte has spoke about the ability to play the two together. With Eden Hazard unfit presumably until the international break, a partnership may be on the cards. Expect Michy to see significantly more minutes this season.

It is still “just a friendly”

Today’s match ultimately has little bearing on the upcoming Premier League season. Arsenal still look formidable with options in attack, albeit thin in midfield and defense. Chelsea looked fine without Eden Hazard, though the diminutive Belgian will greatly improve their attack. There are some question marks about the depth of both sides, but today did little to answer those. Ultimately a draw (minus the penalty shootout) is probably a fair result. Even if it is a London Derby, it really still is “just a friendly”.

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