Arsene Wenger made a plea for unity to the Arsenal fanbase after another Wembley success against Premier League champions Chelsea in the Community Shield.
The Gunners denied Antonio Conte’s men a domestic double with a stirring 2-1 win in the FA Cup final at the national stadium in May and they prevailed 4-1 on penalties after the traditional season curtain raiser finished 1-1 on Sunday, debutant Sead Kolasinac coming off the bench to cancel out Victor Moses’ opener early in the second half.
Victory in the cup final preceded the belated announcement of a new two-year contract at Emirates Stadium for Wenger, with the long-serving manager refusing to be cowed by the increasingly vitriolic fan protests that accompanied a mid-season slump last term.
“Overall I think we had a performance that was a continuation of what we had at the end of last season and that’s what I want to focus on,” the 67-year-old said.
“In the Premier League every game is a battle like today. You have to get on the edge of it, sometimes winning when you do not play too well.
“It is a difficult dream to make the fans happy but we try very hard and I would like that they stand behind the team.
“We might go through some very good periods and some not so good periods. We want to be united and together through the season and hopefully we can be happy at the end of the season.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) August 6, 2017
Chelsea had Pedro dismissed for an untidy lunge on Mohamed Elneny 82 seconds before Kolasinac converted Granit Xhaka’s cross, but Wenger felt an Arsenal leveller had long been on the cards, irrespective of any numerical advantage.
“I don’t know if it was a sending off or not but at that moment we were dominating,” he added. “We had some difficult moments at the start of the second half but after [that] we dominated the game.
“It was just a question on the bench of whether we could come back or not.”
Conte refused to be drawn on either the red card incident or Willian’s booking for simulation in the penalty area before half-time, claiming not to have seen either flashpoint clearly.
“We had a tough pre-season and, in the six days between now until we start the league, we have to be focused on the next game,” said the former Juventus and Italy coach. “It is important to try to start the league in the right way.”
Arsenal kick-off the Premier League season at home to Leicester on Friday, before Chelsea travel to Burnley a day later.
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