Less than a month after Arsenal’s FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea, the 2020/21 campaign will kickoff with the traditional Community Shield curtain-raiser.
The Gunners are scheduled to face Premier League holders Liverpool at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday and the game offers the opportunity to begin the season by winning a piece of silverware.
Of course, it is mentioned by some as a glorified friendly, but for the clubs competing this weekend, they would definitely want to get their hands on the Community Shield prior to the new league season in two weeks’ time.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have won it 15 times apiece and they are only behind Manchester United, who are the record holders with 21 victories, the last of which came in 2016.
Since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp at the Merseyside outfit, they have dominated the Gunners with just one defeat from 11 matches across all competitions.
However, the solitary loss came during the backend of last season where the Gunners came from behind to register a 2-1 Premier League win at the Emirates Stadium.
The teams previously met in the Community Shield back in 2002 where the Gunners won by a 1-0 score. Gilberto Silva scored the winner in the 69th minute.
Players to watch out for:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal: Aubameyang’s future continues to remain a discussion point with the Gunners yet to renew his contract. He has only 10 months remaining on his deal, but manager Mikel Arteta has recently said that he is pretty confident over an extension. Aubameyang was the standout performer for the north London side last term with 29 goals across all competitions and he ended the campaign by scoring a brace in three of the final four matches including the FA Cup final. The Gunners are slightly under prepared for the encounter with just two training sessions on board, but the onus will still be on the club-captain to make the difference in the final third, particularly with the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Willian possibly starting on the bench after not figuring in the only friendly at MK Dons this week.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool: The Egypt international has been a tormentor to the Gunners’ backline in recent years and he has registered six goals and two assists in his previous seven meetings. Salah could not find the back of the net in the defeat at the Emirates Stadium earlier in July, where he was pretty average with his finishing. On top of this, he was closely tracked by left-back Kieran Tierney, who managed to restrict his movement into the box on a number of occasions. Salah will be determined to redeem himself at the Wembley and he has the opportunity to test a Gunners backline which may consist 19-year-old William Saliba. Much has been talked about the Frenchman’s potential. He faces his first major test in his competitive debut against one of Europe’s most fearsome attacks.
Arsenal are without three central defenders in Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring), Calum Chambers (knee) and Pablo Mari (ankle). Mustafi and Mari are expected to return during the opening stages of the season, but Chambers may not make his comeback until the turn of the year. Gabriel Martinelli is likewise sidelined for the remainder of the year as he continues to recover after a knee surgery.
Liverpool, on the other hand, will be without captain Jordan Henderson, and Joel Matic with knee and foot problems respectively. They are aiming to return to full training ahead of the new league season. Elsewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Wilson missed the pre-season tour of Austria with minor injuries, but they are likely to return for the Community Shield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will, however, not face his former employers following a knee injury in training.
Liverpool have the better team on paper and they should be well prepared for the contest, having started training a week prior to the Gunners. Elsewhere, most of their regulars have already had valuable minutes under their belt unlike their opposition and we are fancying them to win their first Community Shield since 2006 with a solid victory.
Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
Stats from Transfermarkt.com