Arsenal lift Community Shield

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the Wembley hero again for Arsenal as his winning penalty claimed the Community Shield for the Gunners.

The Gabonese opened the scoring in the first half – his fifth goal in three Wembley appearances – but Liverpool substitute Takumi Minamino equalised in the second half to force the game into a penalty shoot-out. 

Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cédric Soares and David Luiz were all on target with their spot-kicks and after Rhian Brewster smacked his effort onto the crossbar it was down to Aubameyang to fire the Gunners to victory.

There were three changes from the squad that claimed the FA Cup earlier this month. Mohamed Elneny, returning from a loan spell in Turkey, replaced Dani Ceballos who has himself gone back to Real Madrid while youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka made up the attack alongside captain Aubameyang. 

It was a fast start from Liverpool as towering centre back Virgil van Dijk headed in a free kick in the opening six minutes but a disciplined defensive line caught the Netherlands international offside. 

The Reds set the early tempo, as they did for much of last season, but it was the Gunners who went ahead. A pin-point ball from Saka picked out Aubameyang in space on the left and the Gabonese cut in on the inside of Neco Williams and buried a shot into the bottom corner.

Jürgen Klopp’s men were dominating possession but it was the Gunners who created the goalscoring opportunities. Twice Saka fed Nketiah but the England U21 striker failed to hit the target both times.

As the half went on, the tide started to turn in Arsenal’s favour and by the time the half whistle blew it was Arsenal who were well on top, with new number seven Saka the chief instigator, but they couldn’t add to their tally.

Liverpool started the second half as they did the first and almost found a way through when Sadio Mané slipped away from Rob Holding, who is rumoured to be heading to Newcastle United on loan, but Emi Martínez stood strong to deny him.

There was a flurry of changes shortly before the hour mark. Arteta introduced Soares for Héctor Bellerín while Klopp shuffled his team around with Minamino and Naby Keïta coming on. 

The substitutes ensured Liverpool remained dominant and they bagged an equaliser 20 minutes from time. Neat play in the box between Minamino and Mohamed Salah left the former one-on-one with Martínez and he made no mistake.

That sparked an assault on the Arsenal goal with Martínez pulling off another fine stop to deny Mané from close range. Saka and Nketiah were replaced be fellow English youngsters Nelson and Joe Willock while Sead Kolašinac had to come on for the cramping Kieran Tierney. For Liverpool Curtis Jones replaced Roberto Firmino.

There were late chances for Willock and Andy Robertson before Rhian Brewster came on ahead of the penalty shoot-out. 

Brewster’s miss proved decisive but it was Aubameyang’s penalty that sealed the triumph.

Arsenal: Martínez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney (Kolašinac 81); Bellerín (Cédric 58), Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Saka (Willock 81), Nketiah (Nelson 81), Aubameyang.

Subs not used: Leno, Saliba, Smith Rowe, John-Jules, Olayinka.

Liverpool: Alisson; Williams (Minamino 59), Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum (Brewster 90+2), Fabinho, Milner (Keïta 59); Mané, Firmino (Jones 82), Salah.

Subs not used: Adrián, Grujić, Tsimikas, Elliott, Koumetio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *