Arsenal’s Community Shield Triumph Is a Positive Sign for What Lies Ahead

Nischal Schwager-Patel
Arsenal celebrate winning the Community Shield.
Arsenal celebrate winning the Community Shield. / Pool/Getty Images

Few clubs have enjoyed a better August than Arsenal. A month which started and concluded with silverware, an extraordinary achievement for a club who had gone three years without a trophy prior to the summer of 2020.

Just four weeks after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final, the Gunners were back at Wembley to face formidable opposition. Premier League champions Liverpool had blown the competition away to cruise to the title, but the Gunners had beaten them just six weeks prior to the 2020/21 season opener, and were keen to do it again.

And from the off, Arsenal were in control under the arch.

All eyes have been on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, patiently awaiting the captain’s inevitable contract renewal. But eyes were drawn to him for a different reason on Saturday, when he opened the scoring with a sumptuous finish into the bottom corner. Alisson had no chance; Arsenal had their goal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores for Arsenal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores for Arsenal. / Pool/Getty Images

One nil to the Arsenal.

Understandably, attention shifted to containing Liverpool’s attack, neutralising any chance they had to draw level. The Gunners’ front three of Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah did their job, while Mikel Arteta’s impeccable back three did theirs.

David Luiz continued his impressive renaissance, with Rob Holding binding the backline together. Yet the main plaudits go to Kieran Tierney, the nifty Scotsman who dominated the Reds’ habitually rampant attack. He was superb in protecting his defensive third and driving the ball forward when necessary.

Liverpool admittedly were not up to scratch, their renowned front three rarely forcing Emiliano Martínez into action. When the Argentine was called into action however, he was more than up to the task. He denied Sadio Mané one-on-one twice, and dealt with Takumi Minamino’s long-range effort.

Liverpool drawing level through substitute Takumi Minamino.
Liverpool drawing level through substitute Takumi Minamino. / JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images

The Japanese substitute eventually got the better of Martínez, the ball falling kindly to him in the box allowing him to slot home in style. Arsenal had been pegged back - a harsh goal to concede given their strong performance - and the game would end 1-1.

Therefore a dreaded penalty shootout would settle it.

Any nerves in the shootout seemed non-existent for Arsenal. Five penalties, five goals, all perfectly dispatched.

It was no surprise who took the crucial spot kick. Aubameyang stepping up, sending Alisson the wrong way as his shot flew into the top corner. Another silverware-deciding strike from the skipper.

They did it the hard way, but Arsenal deserved to win the game. They were the better team in the FA Cup final, and they were the better team in the Community Shield. Two professional performances, two pieces of silverware at Wembley. For Arteta, two trophies in eight months is the perfect start to life at the Gunners’ helm.

Arsenal have begun the season in the best way possible, and if Saturday’s performance is anything to go by, this will be a great season for the club. They have already made a smart signing in Willian, and with centre-back Gabriel Magalhães on his way to the Emirates, things are really looking up.

With the first trophy up for grabs going to Arsenal, they now must identify their aims for the new season. Another piece of silverware would be ideal, but that should not be the priority. The Gunners are still a few years off of challenging for the Premier League, and specifically targeting FA Cup or Europa League glory is not so beneficial.

Arsenal need to return to the holy grail of European football: the Champions League.

Arsenal when they were last in the Champions League, back in 2017.
Arsenal when they were last in the Champions League, back in 2017. / IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

It has been three-and-a-half years since Arsenal graced Europe’s premier competition, followed by three - now four - straight seasons in the Europa League. Not since the late 1990s have the Gunners played consecutive seasons in the continent’s second tier, let alone four.

Arsenal must secure a top four finish, and the Community Shield performance proves that they can do just that.

The hard work has just begun, but the signs of reborn Arsenal competing with the best the league has to offer this season are all there.

Arteta’s rebuilding project has kicked off in brilliant fashion: the best is surely yet to come.

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