To many the Community Shield is nothing more than a Premier League curtain-raiser. The trophy itself is next to meaningless, unless your name is David Moyes, while the game can often be played at a pace more suited to a summer
money-making scheme friendly in the far corner of Asia than a frenetic Premier League clash.
But this year, as the final whistle sounded around Wembley Stadium on August 2, the Community Shield represented so much more than that for Arsenal fans, and in particular Arsene Wenger. A 1-0 win for the Gunners over Chelsea courtesy of an Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain goal meant that 11 years and 13 matches after facing Jose Mourinho for the first time, Wenger had finally beaten his old foe.
Now that he’s broken the streak there’s every evidence that Arsenal could make it two in a row, when the two top flight heavyweights go toe-to-toe at Stamford Bridge.
From the first time Mourinho faced Wenger – a game that ended 2-2 in December 2004 – until that Community Shield match, Wenger tried and failed to beat the Special One 13 times. The fateful run lasted a massive 93,240 hours and included a 6-0 hammering in 2014, as Arsenal repeatedly failed to overcome their Chelsea hoodoo.
But now the Mouinho monkey is off Arsene Wenger’s back. The shackles are off.
The press build up isn’t about how many times Wenger has failed to beat Mourinho. instead the pressure is on The Special One who appears to be having a minor meltdown at the Bridge – somewhere between ‘Tom Cruise 2005’ and ‘Britney Spears 2007’ on the scale of a well known public figure completely losing their s***.
Chelsea have made their worst start to a season since 1988, picking up just four points from a possible 15. They have the worst defensive record in the Premier League, conceding 12 goals in five games, and the only side in England’s top seven divisions with a worse record is Weston Super Mare in the Conference South.
The Pensioners are the favourites for Saturday’s lunch time clash at 7/5, possibly through a combination of the fact that Arsenal have won just once there in the last six attempts, and the Gunners habit of crumbling against the big teams. In 25 matches against Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool since 2012, Arsenal have won just four. A strike rate of just 16 per cent and a record as bad as the latest Nicki Minaj single.
However, with Chelsea in such bad shape and Arsene Wenger over his Mourinho hoodoo, the Gunners are proving a tempting bet at . They may have scored just three times this season, but they’ve had more shots than anybody else (112) which shows that they are creating chances. And this Chelsea defence will give away chances.
- The Gunners have kept three clean sheets on the bounce in the Premier League, and with Petr Cech looking to prove a point against his former club, Arsenal could win without conceding at .
- A more interesting punt could be Arsenal to win 2-0 at . Of those four league games Arsenal have won against the ‘Big Teams’ since 2012, three of them have ended 2-0, while almost a quarter of the Gunners last 50 top flight victories have been by a scoreline of 2-0.
With Chelsea in disarray and the streak broken, can Arsene Wenger and co get our weekend off to a flyer?
- Manchester City v West Ham: A 15/2 shot worth a punt as the league’s deadliest attack takes on the meanest defence
- Andrew Boulton: Share with me your love for Daley Blind – or I’ll fight you for it
- Generate your own Chelsea FC excuses
- Ever wondered how much porn you have watched since Wayne Rooney last scored an away goal in the Premier League? Now you can find out…