Community Shield: Arsenal beats Chelsea in ABBA shootout
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 07, 2017 07:50 AM
Arsenal players pose with the trophy after winning the English Community Shield soccer match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
By Rob Harris, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal will start the Premier League season on a high note after mastering the experimental ABBA penalty shootout pattern to beat Chelsea to the Community Shield.
Wembley Stadium provided the biggest stage yet for global trials with the format that mixes up the order of penalties rather than spotkicks alternating between teams A and B.
The long-standing system was deemed by soccer's lawmaking body to be handing an unfair advantage to the team going first. And going second in the rejigged shootout, Arsenal overwhelmed Chelsea 4-1 to win the traditional curtain raiser to the English season after the match was locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
"We showed great composure to come back to the game," Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech said, "then it is penalties and who keeps their cool better."
Only six penalties were required between Premier League champion Chelsea and FA Cup holder Arsenal.
Gary Cahill got Chelsea off to a perfect start before Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal responded by finding the target for Arsenal. But Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blazed his kick over the crossbar followed by striker Alvaro Morata also missing.
Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud then converted their kicks in succession to ensure the north London club started the new season just as it finished the last one — by beating Chelsea at Wembley.
Just like in the FA Cup final, Chelsea was reduced to 10 men.
Victor Moses, who was sent off in the May showpiece, made amends this time by putting Chelsea in front a minute into the second half by getting on the end of Cahill's header.
"Even though we were 1-0 down we didn't panic and kept control of our game and came back," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Arsenal gained a man advantage with 10 minutes to go when Pedro Rodriguez, wearing a mask after being injured on Chelsea's pre-season tour of Asia, was dismissed for a studs-up sliding challenge on Mohamed Elneny.
It proved even costlier when the resulting free kick by Granit Xhaka was headed in by new defensive signing Sead Kolasinac, sending the game into the shootout.
"Physically he is naturally very strong," Wenger said of Kolasinac, who was a free recruit after being out of contract at Schalke. "We have players pumped up in the gym and players who were born strong. And he was the second part."
Defeat for Chelsea added to the uneasy atmosphere around the club since winning the title, with uncertainty and rancor surrounding the future of striker Diego Costa, who is up for sale and didn't play at Wembley.
Asked about Costa, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte replied: "I have already replied to this question."
The tough questions on the pitch will start next weekend when the league season begins. Chelsea opens its title defense against Burnley on Saturday. Arsenal play Leicester on Friday as Wenger chases a first league title since 2004, with his team out of the Champions League after finishing fifth last season.
"It's down for us to keep a positive atmosphere around the team," said Wenger, who dithered over his own future before signing a new two-season contract after the FA Cup success. "A lot was created by my own situation. Maybe I made a mistake."