Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed victory over Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho at the 14th attempt as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal gave the FA Cup winners a 1-0 win in Sunday’s Community Shield.
The England midfielder struck in the 24th minute at a sun-soaked Wembley Stadium to break Mourinho’s longstanding hold over his French rival and give Arsenal hope of a sustained assault on Chelsea’s Premier League title.
While Chelsea improved in the second half, they could not find a way past their former goalkeeper Petr Cech, who registered a clean sheet as his new club claimed their 13th outright Community Shield.
Wenger will be mindful that a 3-0 win over Manchester City in last season’s Community Shield was not followed by a convincing title bid, but with Cech already looking at home and Mourinho no longer able to boast a spotless record against him, he will approach next weekend’s opening league fixtures with pre-season belief fully intact.
Chelsea’s team-sheet suggested that Diego Costa is not yet free of the hamstring problems that plagued him last season, with Loic Remy leading the line in the Spain striker’s absence and new signing Radamel Falcao on the bench.
Questions about the reaction that Cech would receive from the fans of his old club were answered quickly, a standing ovation greeting him as he jogged over to the goal at the Chelsea end prior to kick-off.
Not for the first time, Wenger is embarking on a season with a surfeit of midfielders and he unveiled a new shape here that saw Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla line up on either flank, allowing Aaron Ramsey to take up his favoured central role alongside Francis Coquelin.
With Mesut Ozil shadowing lone striker Theo Walcott, who signed a new four-year contract on Friday, Arsenal were able to cluster men around the ball both in and out of possession, swarming around Chelsea’s midfielders to win the ball back before zipping quick passes between each other.
After Walcott had worked Thibaut Courtois with a header, he created Arsenal’s opener in the 24th minute with a pass wide to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who cut inside Cesar Azpilicueta and lashed home left-footed.
– Hazard squanders chance –
It was Arsenal’s first goal against Chelsea in 506 minutes of football.
A quiet showing from Eden Hazard left it to Ramires to drive Chelsea forward, the Brazil international curling wide from distance and heading a cross from Remy over the bar.
But there was greater thrust to Arsenal’s attacks and Ramsey threatened to add a second when he slammed a shot into the side-netting.
Remy, caught offside four times in the first half, gave way for Falcao at half-time and Oscar entered the fray shortly after in place of his countryman Ramires.
The changes revived Chelsea and after Oscar had dragged wide, Cesc Fabregas gave Hazard a clear sight of goal with a slide-rule pass, only for the off-key Belgian to blaze wastefully over from eight yards.
Cech was finally tested in the 69th minute, springing to his right to palm a free-kick from Oscar behind, which drew an approving roar from Arsenal’s supporters.
Moments earlier Olivier Giroud, a replacement for Walcott, had slid a cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain over the bar and he was to spurn an even better chance, prodding Ramsey’s right-wing cut-back over the top.
Cech also had to field a header from Chelsea substitute Kurt Zouma, but the best late openings fell to Arsenal, only for Courtois to save alertly and impressively from first Cazorla and then Kieran Gibbs. – Agence France-Presse