The annual curtain raiser for the new season of English football is right around the corner and we’re prepared for what will be a very weird Community Shield clash between Arsenal and Chelsea.
The Premier League champions and the defending FA Cup champions should be entering the new season full of excitement as they look to achieve further success. Instead though, the two London sides enter the new campaign with major question marks hanging over their sides and their future.
Arsenal should be the most optimistic of the two sides after a successful summer that saw them part with a club-record fee to land Alexandre Lacazette but their window has been overshadowed by the lingering questions on Alexis Sanchez’ future in North London, as he’s entered the final 12 months of his deal.
The Gunners are standing firm with their statement that the Chilean won’t be sold, which is a positive if that ends up being the case, but even if Arsenal enjoy a fantastic campaign their failings in the past mean they won’t realistically be considered to be potential Premier League champions until we’re well into the back-end of the campaign.
If Arsenal lose on Sunday, then the media assessments will be frank – they’re still short of winning the title, they have no chance of keeping Alexis Sanchez. Whilst those comments may be sensationalised they do carry some weight – but they’re not alone in their issues.
Chelsea on a rollercoaster?
Chelsea stormed to Premier League success last season but their summer has been a rollercoaster ride and it remains to be seen whether the Blues can get out of their current dip, as Antonio Conte is struggling to land the signings he believes his side need.
The Blues have added Willy Caballero, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata to their ranks this summer but a wealth of departures, added to the likely loss of Diego Costa, means Chelsea can field an entire XI of players they’ve lost during the past 12 months.
Chelsea benefitted last season from the absence of European involvement and their fortunate avoidance of any major injury problems but they won’t enjoy the same fortunes this season and their squad will be stretched by a return to Champions League action.
With these shadows hanging over both clubs, the Community Shield clash will be a stern test for both Conte and Wenger. Failure would bring a heap of problems, whereas victory would only minimally reduce the pressure. After all, it’s only the Community Shield and the clash at Wembley isn’t considered to be as important as the Super Cups competed across Europe.
Both teams are expected to line-up with a mirrored tactical set-up, consistently of two three-man defences, but Chelsea will be without notable names including injured duo Bakayoko and Eden Hazard, whilst there’s also suggestions that Morata could also miss out.
That puts the ball very much in Arsenal’s caught but the main issue with the Gunners is that you never know what side will show up, as Wenger’s side vary from the spectacular performance shown in the FA Cup final to the woeful display Wenger’s side displayed in their defeats to Manchester City and Everton towards the back-end of 2016.
Overall, it’s a very difficult game to predict and it will give as an insight as to what to expect from both teams over the course of the 2017/2018 season. However, it will by no means be a certain assessment of the situation both clubs find themselves in as there’s likely to be plenty of activity between now and the end of the transfer window.