Ten-man Chelsea began their season on a losing note as Arsenal lifted the Community Shield on Sunday following a 4-1 win in the penalty shootout
Chelsea began their 2017/18 season just as they had ended their last campaign, with a loss at the hands of Arsenal at Wembley, as the Gunners came from behind to beat the Premier League champions 4-1 in a penalty shootout to win the Community Shield.
The first half was a largely drab affair with chances coming few and far between. Arsenal, though, looked the better of the two sides, grabbing the clearer of the goalscoring opportunities, although Chelsea stood tall for large parts.
The match kicked off into frenzied action at the onset of the second half though, as Victor Moses scored in opportunistic fashion to hand Chelsea the lead. Following the goal though, the Gunners resumed their dominance as they went in search of an equaliser.
Arsene Wenger’s men received a spring in their step with just ten minutes to go, as Pedro was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Mohamed Elneny. Arsenal capitalised on their numerical advantage to equalise just 88 seconds later as summer arrival Sead Kolasinac headed in from Granit Xhaka’s aerial ball.
With the match ending all square after ninety minutes, the new ABBA system of penalties came to the fore. And while Chelsea failed to hold their nerve, Arsenal converted each of their penalties to lift the Community Shield for the 15th time. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule of Antonio Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
A solid performance during regulation time during which he showed that he will play a crucial rule for the Blues yet again over the course of the season, Courtois looked calm and in his area.
Despite what happened today, this save from Thibaut Courtois is truly world class pic.twitter.com/IhRiV8qoAI
— James. (@VintageChelsea) August 6, 2017
Produced an early contender for the Save of the Season as he tipped Granit Xhaka’s 30-yard screamer that looked destined for the top corner. An odd choice to take the second penalty for Chelsea in the shootout, his skied miss turned out to be vital as Arsenal went on to win the match.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Usually one of the most reliable performers for the Blues, Azpilicueta seems to be starting the season on a slow note. The Spaniard took some time to find his feet after a few wobbly moments early on as Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck troubled him with their direct running.
Grew as the game progressed though, and Chelsea’s Mr. Reliable is set to become another crucial cog in the Blues’ squad in the forthcoming season.
David Luiz: 7/10
A strong start to the season for the Brazilian, Luiz turned in a solid and confident performance during the match in an indication that he’s started this season right where he left off in 2016/17. The sweeper in Chelsea’s defence, he read the situations well and was as strong as ever in the air.
Sometimes you can’t help but love David Luiz haha pic.twitter.com/zhuS9nIb5e
— Stacie Jones (@StacieJones_CFC) August 6, 2017
More commendably so, Luiz held his nerve well in a few crunch situations while also displaying some outrageous skills against Arsenal’s attacking men. Despite the arrival of Antonio Rudiger, the Brazilian defender is set to remain an important member in Antonio Conte’s squad.
Gary Cahill: 7/10
Taking on the captain’s armband from John Terry, the expectations are set to be sky high from Cahill in the forthcoming season. His performance on Sunday, though, provided an early indication that the Englishman doesn’t seem to be getting burdened by the weight of expectations.
A solid and composed performance, Cahill also played the ball out well from the defensive third. The clash that sent Per Mertesacker out of the game at the half-hour mark turned out to be the only blot for him as he played a big role in Moses’ opener before slotting his penalty coolly in the shootout.
Victor Moses: 7/10
The 2016/17 season didn’t end well for Moses as he was sent off for diving in the FA Cup final, that ultimately proved to be detrimental for Chelsea as Arsenal made their numerical advantage count. This time around though, the Nigerian redeemed himself quite well with a solid all round performance.
27th May: Victor Moses sent-off for diving in FA Cup final at Wembley
6th August: Victor Moses opens scoring in Community Shield at Wembley pic.twitter.com/K8PHOi3hMV
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 6, 2017
To cap off a strong outing, Moses also grabbed the opening goal of the match that handed Chelsea the initiative to clinch their first silverware of the season before the Gunners ultimately prevailed. With Conte struggling to land another right wing-back, he will be an important player for the Blues this term.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
The Player of the Season in 2016/17, Kante produced a typically assured performance on Sunday to start his campaign strongly. His outing was complete with his usually strong tackling and crisp passing – his pass success rate was consistently over 90%.
Whether it’s Tiemoue Bakayoko or Cesc Fabregas, Kante’s presence will be key for Chelsea as he showed by stifling the dangerous and sharp Arsenal attack for large parts of the game.
Cesc Fabregas: 6/10
Fabregas arguably deserved to play more last season as he often broke through the oppositions’ defensive lines whenever given the opportunity and Sunday’s performance was no less. The Spaniard displayed a visibly improved work rate while retaining his usually confident passing abilities.
An outing that showed that Tiemoue Bakayoko is unlikely to slot straight into the Chelsea lineup alongside Kante whenever he finally regains his fitness.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
It was a quiet game for Alonso who seems to be still catching up on match fitness and sharpness. The Spaniard struggled against the pace of Bellerin and was often pegged back into his own half instead of affecting things in Chelsea’s attack.
With four competitions to play in though, Alonso needs to work hard on his fitness to be as instrumental to the Blues’ fortunes as he was last season.
The first half was largely forgetful for Willian as he started the game slowly with the Gunners doing the bulk of attacking. And midway through the first 45 minutes, the Brazilian winger was booked for simulation as he appeared to have dived to win an unfair penalty, although replays showed he was clipped by his own leg.
— Chelsea GIFs (@ChelseaGIFs) August 6, 2017
Nevertheless, he dusted the incident off to produce a strong showing in the second half, with a marvellous outside of the boot pass that deserved a better finish. His role will be key in Eden Hazard’s absence.
Michy Batshuayi: 6/10
With Diego Costa exiled from the squad before he is eventually offloaded this summer, and Alvaro Morata’s fitness and sharpness not being up to the mark, Michy Batshuayi was handed the role to lead the Blues’ attack by Conte, as he is likely to do so at the start of the league campaign as well.
And the Belgian striker showed that he has progressed considerably from last season, even testing Petr Cech with one of his shots. There’s still a long way to go for Batshuayi though, who will need to assert his dominance in games in order to lock in his place in the starting eleven.
Moses’ dismissal against Arsenal two and a half months ago came back to haunt Chelsea in the FA Cup. This time around it was Pedro’s whose absence ended up costing the Blues in a match against the Gunners.
80′: Pedro is sent off for Chelsea. 🔴
82′: Sead Kolasinac equalises for Arsenal. ⚽️
What a couple of minutes. pic.twitter.com/LomqTPEPQJ
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 6, 2017
Up until the 80th minute, the Spaniard was, by far, the brightest spark in Chelsea’s attack as the Blues looked set to lift the Community Shield. The needless tackle on Elneny’s Achilles, though, turned him into the villain for the Blues as Arsenal went on to take advantage of the numerical advantage to ultimately win the match.