Chelsea vs Arsenal
August 6, Sunday; 13:00 GMT, 14:00 BST and 18:30 IST
You cannot have a more mouthwatering start to a season than this, even if you, as the Football Association have, consider the Community Shield to be nothing more than a rehearsal or a friendly. Arsenal vs Chelsea is one of the fierce and bitter footballing rivalries and come Sunday, you can be rest assured that the two managers, Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger, will name the kind of starting XIs who they think will help win the shield. The two sets of players too, with just five days to go for the start of a new English Premier League season, will not be taking this fixture as just another preparatory one.
Arsenal and Chelsea had different kinds of pre-season schedules and covered tens of thousands of miles during their summer tours.
The Gunners played six matches, in Australia, China and at their own stadium, and the entire squad, barring the wantaway Alexis Sanchez, had a good workout. The arrival of Alexandre Lacazette and his scoring goals against Sydney and in front of the Arsenal supporters at the Emirates Stadium in the Emirates Cup were the bigger positives. This North London club have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, having signed Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke and Lacazette for a club record transfer fee from Olympique Lyonnais.
Chelsea played only three pre-season fixtures, all in China and Singapore, and Conte didn’t see many positives ahead of the start of the Premier League title defence. The Blues have had numerous first team and fringe players leaving the club either on permanent transfers or on loan deals, and their Italian manager has to make the best use of those available to him at the start of this new season.
Mind you, Eden Hazard is still recovering from the surgery performed on his formerly broken right ankle and his return to action is unclear yet. Tiemoue Bakayoko, one of the new signings, is also recovering from a knee surgery and will miss the Sunday’s Community Shield match and his new team’s opening league fixture against Burnley. Conte will, however, hope that the other new signings, Antonio Rudiger from AS Roma and Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, hit the ground running, starting this Sunday.
Unlike all other pre-season fixtures and tournaments, this one-off meeting at the Wembley Stadium gives these two teams a chance to hit top gear a week before the season proper begins.
Chelsea vs Arsenal head-to-head
These two London giants have faced each other 190 times across all competitions and guess what, the Gunners lead the Blues by 74-62. 54 other fixtures have ended in draws.
As far as the Community Shield is concerned, these two teams have met twice before and share a head-to-head record of 1-1. Arsenal won the most recent meeting ahead of the 2015/16 Premier League season, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring the only goal of the match.
FA Community Shield 2017: Chelsea vs Arsenal starting XI
The Football Association have considered this to be a friendly match and allowed Laurent Koscielny, who is in the middle of a three-match suspension, to play.
Arsenal injuries and absentees
Gabriel Paulista (knee injury), Francis Coquelin (ankle ligament problem), Lucas Perez, and Shkodran Mustafi
Eden Hazard (right ankle), Tiemoue Bakayoko (knee) and Pedro Rodriguez (facial injury)
Community Shield prediction
This is a London derby and Chelsea have been overwhelmingly successful against Arsenal in recent years, losing just five and winning 12 of their last 20 meetings with the Gunners. But given how these two teams stack up for this particular fixture, with the Premier League winners not in a position to field their strongest XI, the FA Cup winners are the favourites.
Cricfooty’s prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal
Remember, if the two teams are level at full-time, then a penalty shootout will decide the winner; extra time will not be played.