To some, it was just a pre-season game. To others, it was a chance to win a trophy, small as it may be. One’s perspective would ultimately be dependent on the team you support, and the outcome of the game of course.
The preview involved the absence of Alexander Lacazette and Trent Alexander Arnold (due to injury) and questioning whether Nico Williams would be able to handle the in-form Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. There was also the question of whether Aubameyang would celebrate (if/when he scored) by wearing the Black Panther mask and doing the salute as he has done so before, seeing that the actor -Chadwick Boseman- lost his battle with colon cancer yesterday. May his soul rest in peace.
The game started well for the Reds as Liverpool dominated possession. Arsenal broke well early on and Saka sent a cross-field ball to Aubameyang and he took advantage of the inexperience of Williams and curled one into the bottom corner from outside the box. He eventually did the Wakanda salute – without the mask, unfortunately. Eddy Nketiah also had a chance to double Arsenal’s lead but had his weak shot saved by Alisson.
Liverpool took the initiative and were bossing possession. Sadio Mane had a number of chances after being one-on-one with the goal-keeper but Martinez was equal to the task. Naby Keita and Takushi Minamino came on for Liverpool and were very useful, with Minamino getting the leveller late on. Arsenal began to play better while the Liverpool squad looked a bit leggy late on.
The game went to a shoot-out with Liverpool’s Ryan Brewster the only player missing his penalty. Arsenal won and they get their first silverware of the season? Or did they?
At the end of the day, the Community Shield is not recognized as a competitive game and is more or less a ‘curtain raiser’ for the Premier League 2020/2021 season scheduled to kick-off on the 12th of September.
For Arsenal, it is a positive one for Arteta and his team as they managed to go toe-to-toe with the current Premier League holders. The concern/issue is in midfield and attack as the absence of Dani Ceballos was sorely missed and while Mohammed Elneny held his own but may not be an ideal solution in the long term for this Arsenal side while Eddie Nketiah does not seem like the future (unfortunately). There are games where Arsenal would need to dominate games for long periods and Arsenal would need midfielders who can control games and make key passes.
For Liverpool, as said earlier, this was just a pre-season game. Most times, the Community Shield winners do not go on to win the Premier League, which is a good sign. The absence of Alexander-Arnold was obvious, as shown in the first goal. Jordan Henderson was also not available. Although this current break is a short one for them – as applied to every other team- there still needs to be great improvement before the season starts.