A sluggish Chelsea performance led to a disappointing defeat to London rivals Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday. A first half strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain separated the two sides, with the Gunners lifting the Community Shield under the Wembley arch. The result brought an end to Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten record against Arsene Wenger, seemingly leading to more animosity between the two.
The champions started without Diego Costa, who was left out of the squad due to a hamstring problem. Loic Remy led the line, with a mostly full strength team behind him. The only major change was Ramires coming in for Oscar, something that Mourinho tends to do in matches against his top four rivals.
Straight from the off, it was clear that Chelsea weren’t fully prepared for the start of the season. They looked well below match fitness, with a lethargic pressing game and few moments of magic from their flair players. Before this game it was tough to understand why they were playing a friendly on Wednesday night, now it seems like a vital move ahead of the Premier League kick off.
Arsenal were in the Blues’ faces from the very start, showing that they were in no mood to let the Stamford Bridge side walk all over them again. There were few standout players, but the Gunners seemed to function well as a unit. They were good value for the opening goal, which came after 24 minutes. Some poor defending from Cesar Azpilicueta gave Oxlade-Chamberlain room on the right flank, and he came inside to put a left footed effort past Thibaut Courtois.
That goal did seem to spark a little bit of life from the champions, but despite their efforts they didn’t get close to troubling the familiar face of Petr Cech in goal. The Czech stopper could well have affected his former teammates mentally, as seeing what he was capable of in matches and in training for years could have Chelsea players worrying about just how they could get past him.
Ramires headed a good chance over the bar in the first half, while Eden Hazard screwed an effort way over in the second. It took over an hour to really test Cech, when he kept out a free-kick from substitute Oscar.
At the end of the game, Mourinho did point out his own sides failings, which were hopefully just early season rustiness as he suggested, “One team played counter-attack well, another had initiative and played well but without the sharpness that you need. They created, they tried, tactically everything. We didn’t equalise, we didn’t play at our normal level.”
The manager also praised the Arsenal performance, even comparing it to his own style. “A team that defends very well, that leaves their philosophy in the dressing room, plays all the second half with nine players in front of the box, this is football. Very good tactical organisation. They scored one goal, they deserved to win.”
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