Things we learnt from the Community Shield
Arsenal win Community Shield after topping Liverpool on penalties on Saturday.
31 August 2020 | Sports
Arsenal beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties to win the Community Shield after a 1-1 draw at Wembley on Saturday.
Just days after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final, Arsenal were back at Wembley to start the new season and once again the national stadium provided the ideal backdrop for Mikel Arteta's side to underline their rapid improvement.
So lethargic and error-prone during the dismal reign of Arteta's predecessor Unai Emery, the Gunners have been transformed by their former midfielder and Liverpool were the latest top side to find out just how well-organised Arsenal are under their Spanish boss.
Just as Arteta out-witted Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard with his astute game plans in last season's FA Cup, Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp found himself caught in his rival's tactical web in the first half. Defending deep and attacking on the counter, with instructions to target Liverpool's young defender Neco Williams, Arsenal took the lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's superb curler after he punished the rookie's cautious approach.
Then, when Arsenal's legs began to tire after just a week of pre-season training, Arteta had instilled enough competitive spirit in them to hold on for a penalty shoot-out that Aubameyang won with a nonchalant spot-kick.
Closing the gap
Arsenal finished 43 points behind champions Liverpool last season but, while it might be too soon to label the north Londoners as title contenders, it would be a surprise if that gap isn't a lot closer come the end of this term.
For a team whose manager is famous for his commitment to fierce, high-tempo pressing, there was a noticeable lack of intensity from Liverpool as they suffered a second successive Community Shield defeat. Klopp's side set such a high standard during their relentless march to a first English title for 30 years that it is easy to interpret any drop-off as proof that Liverpool's thirst for silverware has been quenched. Winning the Premier League quicker than any other side just a year after they landed the Champions League would be enough for some less driven teams to rest on their laurels.
But Klopp has no reason to panic.
Not only were Liverpool without captain Jordan Henderson and influential defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, they are only two weeks into their pre-season training schedule after the late finish to last term.
Klopp could take heart from the way Liverpool kept going to equalise through Takumi Minamino's first goal for the club late in the second half - his champions will remain the team to beat when the title race begins in two weeks.
While it was the electric Aubameyang who stole the spotlight, there was also an encouraging display from emerging teenager Bukayo Saka.