Gunners fire warning

Creative Arsenal finally bring win for Wenger in 14th clash against Mourinho

Arsenal's England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) celebrates scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in the FA Community Shield against Chelsea.
Arsenal's England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) celebrates scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in the FA Community Shield against Chelsea.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

FA Community Shield

Arsenal 1

Chelsea 0

If good things are supposed to come to those who wait, Arsene Wenger should savour a win that had been a long time coming.

Eleven years after he first faced Jose Mourinho and in their 14th meeting as managers of opposing teams, the Frenchman was finally able to taste victory. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's thumping finish decided the Community Shield and offered further evidence of Arsenal's new-found relish for the bigger occasions.

This was their sixth visit to Wembley in 16 months and, including a penalty shoot-out, they have triumphed on each occasion. Beating Chelsea may have held the greatest psychological significance of all, such has been the extent of Mourinho's dominance against Wenger.

Chelsea can argue they only need to get up to speed for Saturday's start of the Premier League season, but it was notable that Arsenal were the sharper, the more energetic and the more progressive side. They refused to be intimidated and defended with reassuring solidity. They also offered more creativity.

If Wenger's choice of Theo Walcott in attack was intended to try and stretch Chelsea with his pace, it reaped an unexpected dividend. The Englishman, who signed a lucrative four-year contract this week, instead dropped deeper to turn supplier.

He found Oxlade-Chamberlain who sashayed infield and arrowed an unstoppable left-footed shot past Thibaut Courtois. It was, astonishingly, Arsenal's first goal against Mourinho's Chelsea since Gilberto Silva scored in 2007.

When Walcott made way, his replacement, Olivier Giroud, could have scored twice within five minutes while Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs had further chances against an increasingly ragged Chelsea, who took risks to try and level.

Ramires, with a curling shot that just missed the post and a header that cleared the bar, had their only first-half opportunities. Eden Hazard should have levelled, blazing over after a wonderful pass by the former Gunner Cesc Fabregas. The ex-Chelsea man, Petr Cech, was required to push an Oscar free kick away but was a spectator for long periods. His Chelsea career brought 486 games and 13 trophies, but his time at Arsenal has already yielded one piece of silverware.

Cech was Chelsea's second-choice goalkeeper last year. He faced their attacking understudies for the current campaign. The hamstrung Diego Costa is a doubt for Chelsea's Premier League opener against Swansea. In his stead, Loic Remy started in attack, with the new signing Radamel Falcao beginning on the bench.

Given his underwhelming Manchester United career, it may be a portent of things to come, but Mourinho summoned the Colombian for the second half. He, too, could not fashion a breakthrough and Arsenal's winning habit continued.

After beating the respective runners-up from France and Germany, Lyon and Wolfsburg, last week, Arsenal have a still more prestigious scalp in the champions of England. And, more pertinently, a Mourinho team.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'Gunners fire warning'. Subscribe