While the Community Shield is often a slightly fluffy affair, the fact that is usually is kicks off the whole season brings with it some level of interest in the hopes of getting a sneak preview at how your team is going to play this year. Pitting the previous year’s FA Cup winner versus the League winner, those two teams’ supporters can see their new players in action, things the team has worked on over the summer, and have a chance to pick up a little prize before the league kicks off.
This year, that is thrown out the window. Between the matchup’s timing with two weeks before the actual season opener, the proximity to last years’ wrap up just four weeks ago, and the amount of players just coming back from their brief holiday, chances are this game feels a lot more like a pre-season friendly than a statement game to open the season.
Arsenal are coming off a friendly in the middle of the week against MK Dons in which they won 4-1. Liverpool are coming off a friendly against RB Salzburg in which they drew 2-2 on late goals after conceding two early.
Arsenal trotted out a lineup in Arteta’s 3-4-3 formation that consisted of: Leno; Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Soares, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang and I think today we could see something very similar. In fact, if I had to guess, that is exactly the same lineup we will see again today to start.
By all accounts, this game will be filled with both team’s youth players and non-regulars. It’s something that could alright for the viewers. Last time these two teams played heavily rotated lineups filled with youth players it turned into a goal scoring festival of highlights that ended in a 5-5 draw with Liverpool advancing on penalties. If this game is half as open, I don’t expect many complaints.
But if this is the case, why are we excited? What is the intrigue? Well it’s a fair question because it’s not very clear. The obvious answer is that it’s a chance to watch your Arsenal team, regardless of who is playing on the field, take on a Premier League rival, and that is always intriguing.
But I wanted to offer a few other reasons:
- If Saliba plays, it is another chance to get him minutes within the team and this time against better competition to see how he fares
- With Arsenal’s current transfer window overhaul moving a bit slow, this could be the midfield that starts the years, whats that like?
- Kieran Tierney. He is just great to watch and no matter the affair you know he is putting in 110%. Love him.
- Arsenal have won 15 of these, why not make it 16!
- For some, this could be their final Arsenal appearance
Finally, this presents a pretty great opportunity for Arsenal and Arteta, in particular. He could collect a second piece of silverware in his young coaching career with little risk to his clout if Arsenal don’t manage it. It’s almost a “no risk” scenario. If they win, its a huge moment for Arteta to show the footballing world what he can do, what his team can do, and where their rebuild is heading. If not, no one will fault an Arsenal side for losing against Liverpool with half their squad still on holiday.
Let’s talk about if they win. What a great message it sends. It would men that Arteta has won two finals and trophies in a month, he has put together two tactical gameplans to beat good teams to do so, and that he is continuing to have his Arsenal side vastly over achieve. If ever there is a good look to have when your club is in the midst of trying to convince better talent to come to London, it’s showing them that you just won another game against Liverpool – even if in irregular circumstances.
I am really looking forward to it. Low pressure, mostly fun, lots of youth, with only a few stakes on the line. It’s been a while since Arsenal has played a match without high stakes on the table. Last year finished with a race to try and manage the top 5 spots and then with an FA Cup run and even as a supporter it’s nervy moments. These early games are a couple we can enjoy with a little more easy and I am here for it!
Hoping you are able to enjoy it without the pressure as well!
Leno; Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Soares, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang
Hoping for a 2-1 win from Arsenal or maybe another goal scoring affair that ends in penalties… but Arsenal win this time.