Led for most of the match by captain Per Mertesacker, Arsenal beat Chelsea to take home the England’s top preseason trophy. The result also marked a premier for the team’s coach Arsene Wenger.
As monkeys on backs go, there were hardly any bigger than Chelsea coach José Mourinho for Arsène Wenger. The veteran Arsenal manager had never beaten a Mourinho-coached team in a competitive match in 13 tries – until Sunday, when the Gunners overcame Chelsea 1-0 at the Community Shield in London’s Wembley Stadium.
Arsenal, who were captained at the start by German defender Per Mertesacker, were content to cede the majority of possession early on to the Blues. But Mourinho’s men failed to test Arsenal keeper Petr Cech, formerly of Chelsea, in any serious way.
Instead it was Arsenal youngster Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain putting the Gunners on top in minute 24 with a left-footed sizzler.
“I believe that when we got out of our defense we looked dangerous to score,” Wenger told reporters after the match. “But I think maybe in our half we were a bit cautious.”
Arsenal’s German playmaker Mesut Özil struggled a bit, and his team almost paid for their lack on forward thrust on the hour mark, but Eden Hazard blasted the ball well over from close range. Otherwise the Gunners’ defensive approach worked well. Arsenal could have added another goal or two, but Santi Cazorla and Kieran Gibbs spurnedchances in the dying minutes.
So the match ended 1-0, a result that will stoke the Northern Londoners belief that they can contend for this season’s Premier League title.
“It’s still preseason,” Mertesacker said. “But it keeps our confidence high. I think we deserved it.”
Wenger and Mourinho, whose mutual antipathy is palpable, declined to shake hands after the match, with the Chelsea coach hurling his loser’s medal into the crowd in frustration.