Can the Gunners Shoot Down Champions Liverpool in the Community Shield?

It seems amazing to think that with the Champions League final just last weekend, the 2019-20 season has come to an end across Europe and yet, less than a week later, the traditional curtain-raiser to the Premier League season, the Community Shield, is set to take place at Wembley this weekend as League Champions Liverpool will face off against FA Cup Winners Arsenal in the game that kicks off the season in England.

There is no doubt that the game should be an intriguing one. Liverpool, runaway winners of the league title last season, were not quite so invincible after the restart, losing two and drawing one of their remaining games, but even so still took the league title by 18 points. One of those defeats came away to their opponents today, Arsenal, who have been reinvigorated since Mikel Arteta left Manchester City as assistant to take over as head coach at Arsenal last season.

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The Community Shield

Although the Community Shield has been around in one form or another since 1907, it has only really been in its current form since 1974, when the game was switched to a new home at Wembley. The game has always intended to feature the league title winners against the FA Cup winners, with either league or FA Cup runners up sometimes standing in when one team has won both trophies.

Apart from a spell away from Wembley while it was redeveloped from 2001 to 2006, the final has been played their since and has become the traditional opening fixture of the season. Manchester United are the most successful team in the game’s history, amassing 21 wins while this weekend’s finalists Liverpool and Arsenal lie joint second on that list with 15 wins apiece. Whoever wins on Saturday will then go into sole second spot behind United on that list.

Of the two teams, Arsenal have been the most recent winners of the tournament, last lifting it as recently as 2017, but for Liverpool fans, while beaten finalists last season against Man City (losing 5-4 on penalties), the Reds last win in this competition was back in 2006.

The two teams have contested three Community Shield matches previously with Liverpool winning two, 3-1 in 1979, and 1-0 in 1989, while Arsenal won the most recent match between the teams with a 1-0 win. Back in 2002.

Since the year 2000, only five teams have won the trophy, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City. Only three other teams have contested a final since 2000, Portsmouth in 2008, Wigan in 2013 and Leicester in 2016, such is the dominance of those five teams.

Liverpool Team News and Preview

It may have been 30 years in the making but Liverpool claimed their 19th league title last season in style, wrapping up an 18-point success over Manchester City with a final day win at Newcastle. However, one of the two teams to beat the Reds in their last seven games was Arsenal, who recorded a 2-1 win at the Emirates. A result that will probably still rankle with the reds given that it was two poor mistakes in defence that handed Arsenal both their goals.

That said, the Reds have a fine record against Arsenal since Jurgen Klopp took over as manager and they will start the final as the clear favourites. With just Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana leaving the club and Kostas Tsimikas the only notable arrival, it is very much a case of maintaining the current squad for Jurgen Klopp and FSG.

Likely Liverpool Team – (4-3-3) – Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Henderson, Fabinho, Keita, Salah, Mane, Firmino

Arsenal Team News and Preview

There’s no doubt that Mikel Arteta has had a positive influence on Arsenal since taking over as manager, although the Gunners have not won as many games as he would have liked. Still they have become tougher to beat and did beat Liverpool towards the end of last season. Keeping both Aubameyang and Saka and adding Willian from Chelsea on a free has been excellent business for Arsenal and they will view the new season with a bit more confidence.

However, the Gunners still have a few issues to resolve, namely what to do with Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi, who both seem to be out of favour with Arteta and set to move on. Arsenal will be stern opponents for Liverpool in what should be a cracking encounter.

Likely Arsenal Team – (5-3-2) – Martinez, Bellerin, Tierney, Papasthatopoulos, Kolasinac, Luiz, Xhaka, Willian, Torreira, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Community Shield Tips

  • Match Result – Liverpool to win – 8/13
  • Match Result & BTTS – Liverpool to win and both teams to score – 21/10
  • Correct Score – Liverpool 2-0 Arsenal – 8/1
  • Anytime Goalscorer – Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 21/20