ARSENAL 1, CHELSEA 0
Arsene Wenger finally recorded a victory over adversary Jose Mourinho as Arsenal defeated Chelsea to win the FA Community Shield, the curtain-raiser to the new season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s spectacular strike separated the two teams as Arsenal manager Wenger recorded a first win against his counterpart at the 14th time of asking.
Apart from Wenger’s obvious delight, it was a sweet moment for Petr Cech, the keeper who recently switched from being a Pensioner to a Gunner in an £11m transfer.
Cech kept a clean sheet against his former club as Arsenal delivered a statement that they will be genuine title challengers.
While the game was absorbing, that was also a case at the post-match press conference as Mourinho accused Wenger of “leaving his team’s philosophy in the changing room” and effectively parking the bus.
He said: “The best team lost and the defensive team won. I have my opinion which might be different to you.
“Arsenal defender and left their philosophy in the changing room. They played the second half with nine players in the box.”
Mourinho added that Arsenal played a counter-attacking game while his team played well without the sharpness and aggression needed to win the game. Tactically we tried everything, but it didn’t happen and we didn’t equalise.
“Arsenal scored, didn’t concede and won the game, congratulations to them.”
Wenger, for once, didn’t disagree admitting there were times in the game when they “protected” their lead and he was delighted with their determination not to concede.
He said: “The best chances fell to us against a very good side and we did not abandon anything. Our game is based on togetherness and solidarity and we defended and attacked well.”
Wenger added that his failure to beat Mourinho is 13 previous games, and the publicity given to it, may have provided a psychological hurdle in the heads of his players.
He said: “We were 1-0 ahead and protected that lead. Our philosophy was we wanted to win and I am pleased with that.
“The extra satisfaction was that we won the game which involved two very good teams. Chelsea are good offensively and we didn’t concede a goal. I think it was important to get the hurdle out of the way.”
Those, who refer to the Community Shield as a meaningless pre-season friendly, ought to have been spectators at Wembley. These two deadly rivals produced a contest as intense as anything the Barclays Premier League can offer as local pride was at stake.
The heat was stepped up earlier in the week by Mourinho with what has become his customary winding up Wenger who had never beaten his Chelsea counterpart in 13 head-to-head clashes.
Mourinho stoked the flames by saying had he been Wenger he would have found out what was responsible for that win-less sequence.
On top of that Cech was appearing against Chelsea, the team he had left after 11 years not many weeks ago to become a Gunner.
And there was Cesc Fabregas playing for Chelsea against the club where he achieved legendary status.
The start was high in energy, but lacking in quality with play as a frenetic pace until Arsenal made a 24th minute breakthrough when Oxlade-Chamberlain broke the deadlock with a fabulous solo effort.
The winger, set up by a Theo Walcott pass, cut in from the right before firing a shot from 14 yards into the far top corner of the net, a strike worthy of winning any match.
Chelsea had two decent chances to draw level before the break as Ramires planted a free header over the bar from six yards and then fired into the side netting.
Mourinho sent on new loan signing Radamel Falcao for Loic Remy at the break as Chelsea looked for a way back into the match. He was soon followed by mercurial Brazilian Oscar who replaced Ramires.
Chelsea raised the tempo as Edin Hazard blazed over when well placed while Oscar’s free kick was brilliantly kept out by Cech.
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Santa Cazorla and Kieran Gibbs, meanwhile, had great chances to seal victory.
Substitute Giroud blazed over from eight yards Cazorla was denied by a brilliant block by keeper Thibaut Courtois who also spread himself well to foil Gibbs who, like Cazorla, was through on goal.
In the end it was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal which proved the matchwinner as Arsenal picked up the season’s first piece of silverware.