Arsenal comes back to win Community Shield on PKs against 10-man Chelsea

Sead Kolasinac scored the equalizer as Arsenal went on to beat Chelsea in penalties and win the Community Shield. (AP)

A year ago, Manchester United won the FA Community Shield but did not go on to win the Premier League. The two years before that, Arsenal won it but couldn’t claim the league either. Neither did the three teams to win it before that — United, Manchester City and United again.

However, the four Community Shield winners prior to that, from 2007 through 2010, did go on to win the league. That would be United, Chelsea, United and United, respectively.

(Fun fact about the Community Shield: it was called the Charity Shield until 2002, until the Football Association was found to have broken rules about labeling something a charity event by England’s Charity Commission and opted to change its name, rather than comply.)

So is the Community Shield, the fairly inconsequential trophy fought for by the winners of last year’s league and FA Cup to open the new season, a predictor for who will win the big trophy at the end of the campaign?

Maybe?

More likely, it’s an indicator where teams are when they finish up their preseasons. Because plenty see it as the culmination of their season’s preparations, rather than the start of the season proper. In some ways, the FA seems to as well, since red cards don’t carry over into the Premier League because the Shield isn’t deemed an official competitive game.

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At any rate, the theory that teams who are playing well at the start of the season, following a strong preseason, are more likely to win things is probably more valid. On Sunday, Chelsea, the defending Premier League champions looking to win it again for the third time in four seasons, gave away a lead taken in the 46th minute on a goal by Victor Moses when Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac headed home just after Pedro was sent off in the 80th minute. After it ended 1-1, the Gunners won on penalties.

Make of that what you will.

The sides lined up remarkably unchanged from last year. Of the 22 starters, only Arsenal’s new striker Alexandre Lacazette wasn’t already on his team’s roster last season. Even the managers were the same, with Arsene Wenger somehow hanging on to his job in North London, while his counterpart Antonio Conte will be expected to follow up on his soaring debut season.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s stars who have been linked with departures to various clubs all summer — and much of the season prior — are still Gunners. Neither was in the match day squad, but only because Sanchez isn’t yet fully fit after beginning his preseason late, and Ozil has an injury. Laurent Koscielny didn’t play because he’s suspended for the first two games of the league season and Wenger wanted to use a back line that could carry over into the next few games.

It was a curtain-raiser of predictable sloppiness. Bad touches. Misplaced passes. Combinations that aren’t quite fluid yet. Poorly measured through balls. It was all there.

Arsenal began the game as the stronger team, and 22 minutes in, Lacazette curled a shot from the top of the box onto the post.


The goal roused an erstwhile sleepy Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had to make two strong saves to preserve the stalemate. Willian felt he’d earned a penalty for Chelsea, but he’d clipped himself as much as he’d been taken down by Bellerin. He was given a yellow for diving, probably harshly.


Also, David Luiz did this.


Before the second half was a minute old, Arsenal did a shoddy job of clearing a corner and Gary Cahill headed it back into the box and Moses’s path. The Nigerian wingback slammed it home from close range.


In the 80th minute, Pedro got himself sent off and Chelsea reduced to 10 with a clumsy tackle from behind on Mohamed Elneny’s Achilles. It instantly changed the game. Because 82 seconds after the foul, Granit Xhaka swung in the ensuing free kick, which was headed home by Arsenal newcomer Kolasinac.


That precipitated a penalty shootout, skipping extra time, and debuting the ABBA system. (Rather than teams taking turns with a penalty, they alternated taking two in a row to remove the competitive advantage of going first.)

Chelsea goalie Thibaut Courtois, unusually, took his side’s second kick and blasted it over. His teammate Alvaro Morata, making his competitive debut, was either denied by Cech or the bottom of the post — it was hard to tell. And Arsenal converted all four of its kicks.

And so either Arsenal will either break the streak of Community Shield winners failing to win the league. Or it won’t. There’s no telling at this point. All we know for sure is that the English preseason is over.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports communication lecturer at Marist College. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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