THINKING ABOUT THE COMMUNITY SHIELD. by Funsho
Liverpool won the Premier League by a whopping 99-point tally, which was almost 45 more than unlikely FA cup winners-Arsenal’s total on the EPL table last season. Whenever the Community Shield match comes around, you know a new English season is around the corner. The match brings the league champions and FA cup winners together in a one-off battle. Unfortunately, with the pandemic that’s altered everything in our planet, things look kinda weird, and it makes you wonder what to expect from this game.
Well, the date was 25.8.2020, and I started thinking about this Saturday’s 20/21 traditional curtain raiser and… so, Liverpool equalised to make it 2-2 through Sadio Mane, who got the ball, did a few step overs to spurn Bellerin, and unleashed a thunderbolt to the left hand corner of Leno’s goal post. It was an unreal effort. No keeper in the world would have stopped it. Not Buffon. Not Kahn. Not Casillas… It’s now the 79th minute of normal time and the relentless Reds were trying to attack Arsenal’s goal again. Robertson crossed the ball, and as it looked like substitute Origi was gonna connect with it at the far post, I woke up all sweaty with a pounding heart. Alas, I had dozed off in the midst of the thoughts in my head about the game.
Anyway, the 4-1 friendly win against MK Dons was a comfortable performance for Arsenal for the most part but Liverpool will be a different proposition. Without trying to sugar-coat the truth, Arsenal will be the underdogs in this game, but since it’s likely to still have the feel of a pre-season friendly, the gulf in class should not be so obvious – hopefully. The champions will likely have more of the possession with the gunners staying compact and trying to hit them on the break.
Look, chances are that if Arsenal try to take too much initiative and predominantly attack, like knife through butter, Klopp’s technocrats will carve the defence open and make us pay. Oh! This could be a long day; but who cares as long as the players weather the storm and the Shield ends up at the Emirates by Saturday night! Even so, it will be great if Arsenal are not outclassed in this game cos for the win last month, the gulf in class was so obvious that Arteta had this to say on ESPN after the game:
“The gap between the two teams today is enormous, we cannot improve it in two months, but the accountability, the fight is now equal, and I am very proud of that. The rest will take some time.”
Robertson VVD Gomez TAA
Wijnaldum Fabinho Henderson
Mane Firmino Salah
Auba Eddie Saka
AMN Xhaka Elneny Cedric
Tierney Holding Saliba
The Arsenal team may not be ideal, but it looks like the most likely based on who’s fit, who’s back from holidays and who’s been seen in training pictures. Both teams will be up for the game as each coach will want the bragging rights, but don’t hold your breath on this one. Sharpness and match fitness could affect the outcome. The Merseysiders have been in pre-season in Austria for a couple of weeks now, while Arteta just started having the lads back this week, so don’t expect the intensity of a mid-March European fixture. Apart from a slight morale boost for the winners here, the silverware on offer should be an additional incentive.
Moreover, this writer won’t join the ‘head says Liverpool, but heart says Arsenal’ bandwagon. Liverpool are the better team, and they look right on the money to win the game, even if it’s just on penalties. The Merseyside team’s high press, compact midfield unit, top class forward line and superior players overall could prove decisive. Coupled with Arsenal not being at full strength, doubt about how much service the attackers (esp Auba) will get from midfield and likely errors in a defensive pairing that’s hardly played together, the signs are not so encouraging. You may have expected to be reading a lofty proposition on how Arsenal can somehow snatch the win (and it’s possible) through the back door, but it’s better to be honest instead of raising your expectations only to come back down crashing.
In the end, who’s to say the mighty gooners will not look to take advantage again, peradventure the Scousers are not up for it on the day? If that happens, be sure that Arteta’s troops will be battle-ready to take the win. Whatever the outcome is, one thing is sure: Arsenal’s commitment, effort, application and game plan will be clear for all to see. Whether or not it will be enough to get silverware #2 of the Mikel Arteta era is another saucer of gravy. So, Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal? Yes? No? Maybe? Fingers crossed.
Really appreciate you taking the time to read,