It was a case of 14th time lucky for Arsene Wenger on Sunday, with the Frenchman finally getting the better of Jose Mourinho as Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 to win the Community Shield.
Wenger had famously failed to defeat Mourinho in 13 previous meetings, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stunning first-half strike finally broke that duck at Wembley.
Both sides were missing their top scorers from last season, but Chelsea felt the absence of the hamstrung Diego Costa more keenly than Arsenal did that of the rested Alexis Sanchez.
Petr Cech, so often Chelsea’s saviour throughout his glittering decade at Stamford Bridge before his switch across London in June, was rarely troubled in Arsenal’s goal as Mourinho’s men looked blunt up top without Costa.
Eden Hazard was unusually quiet for the Premier League champions, while new signing Radamel Falcao – introduced by Mourinho at half-time – struggled to make an impact.
Mourinho will certainly be praying that Costa recovers in time for next weekend’s Premier League opener against Swansea City.
By contrast, Oxlade-Chamberlain was excellent throughout for Arsenal, while Theo Walcott – handed a starting spot up front – and Mesut Ozil also impressed as Wenger’s men deservedly retained the Community Shield.
Chelsea weathered early pressure and former Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas had tentative appeals for a penalty rejected by referee Anthony Taylor in the ninth minute.
But it was the FA Cup holders who took the lead midway through the half – and did so in some style through Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The England winger collected Walcott’s pass, cut inside Cesar Azpilicueta and rifled an unstoppable left-footed shot into Thibaut Courtois’ far top corner.
Chelsea responded well and should have been level nine minutes before the break, but Ramires somehow contrived to nod Loic Remy’s arced cross from the left over Cech’s crossbar from six yards.
And the Brazilian’s miss would have proven even more costly, had Branislav Ivanovic not bailed him out with a terrific goal-saving clearance when Aaron Ramsey looked certain to head Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross past a stranded Courtois on the stroke of half-time.
Mourinho turned to Falcao at the break in an attempt to sharpen his side’s cutting edge, but it was two of Chelsea’s stars from last season who created their best chance of the second half on the hour.
Fabregas picked out Hazard in the inside-right channel, but the off-colour Belgian could only blaze his shot over the bar from 10 yards.
Cech then proved his worth with a relatively comfortable save from Chelsea substitute Oscar’s free-kick, and Olivier Giroud could – maybe should – have doubled Arsenal’s advantage in the 68th minute when he fired over from close range.
Chelsea continued to press in their search for an equaliser, but with Costa absent in body – and Hazard seemingly absent in mind – Mourinho’s proud record against Wenger never looked like being maintained.
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