Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 in the Community Shield on Sunday, securing the first trophy of the new English season and setting the stage for the start of the Premier League next weekend. Here AFP Sport looks as five key discoveries from the Wembley clash.
Cech pays early dividends
After enduring years of costly calamities from his goalkeepers, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes his A?10 million pre-season swoop for Petr Cech will finally bring some much-needed stability between the posts and the early signs look promising.
His assured presence radiated confidence to an often nervous Arsenal back-four and when the 33-year-old was finally called into action in the 69th minute he leapt to his right to make his only significant save as he clawed away a goalbound Oscar free-kick.
With Chelsea bombarding the penalty area with crosses in the closing stages, Cech never flinched and even when he couldn’t claim cleanly his defenders had been organised well enough by the Czech to ensure no damage was done.
Wenger ends Mourinho mastery
Wenger’s failure to secure a single victory over Jose Mourinho in their previous 13 meetings was becoming yet another weapon for the Chelsea boss to use whenever he wanted to antagonise his old rival.
Against that painful backdrop, denying Mourinho the chance to land another psychological blow made this an especially sweet success for Wenger, although he would surely swap it for a win when the teams next clash in the Premier League on September 19.
But even more than the victory itself, Wenger will take heart from the way his fired-up players showed they have no reason to feel inferior to the champions, producing the kind of aggressive yet composed display that suggested they should make a serious challenge for a first English title since 2004.
Jury still out on Falcao
Brought on at half-time for the ineffective Loic Remy, Chelsea’s new striker Radamel Falcao couldn’t dispel the memories of his lacklustre loan spell at Manchester United last season.
That distinctly underwhelming year at Old Trafford wasn’t enough to dissuade Mourinho from taking the Colombian to Stamford Bridge on loan from Monaco as back-up for Diego Costa, who was absent at Wembley after suffering yet another recurrence of his nagging hamstring problem.
But, while it’s too early to make a definitive judgement, Mourinho might have been a little concerned to see Falcao, no longer the incisive finisher or smooth mover of old, labouring in vain to make any impression against the Gunners.
Walcott makes his case
Theo Walcott has never hidden his desire to assume the lone central striker’s role in Arsenal’s attack and, finally allowed to move in from his right wing berth by Wenger, the England international seized the opportunity to show he could start instead of the erratic Olivier Giroud and injury-prone Danny Welbeck.
Although he didn’t net against Chelsea, he still set the tone for fired-up Arsenal’s spritely display when he immediately won a crunching tackle on Nemanja Matic straight from the kick-off.
His potent combination of pace and clever moment kept Chelsea’s defence on the back foot, allowing him the time and space to tee up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his goal with a perfectly-weighted pass across the penalty area.
Ox adds to Wenger’s weapons
Derailed by injuries and inconsistent performances over the last two years, Oxlade-Chamberlain — hailed as a future star when he joined from Southampton four years ago — was in danger of becoming Arsenal’s forgotten man.
But the England midfielder, still only 21, gave a well-timed reminder of his talent when he cut past Cesar Azpilicueta before drilling a superb left-foot strike into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’s goal in the 24th minute.