The new season is almost upon us. The traditional curtain raiser to the English season is set to take place on Sunday afternoon as Premier League champions Chelsea, take on FA Cup winners Arsenal at Wembley in the Community Shield.
It's a highly anticipated game that gives each side the chance of winning the first silverware of the season. Arsenal took on Manchester City in the same match last season and ran out 3-0 victors. This year's game should be a much closer affair though.
It remains to be said that Arsene Wenger is still yet to beat a team managed by Jose Mourinho. Perhaps this year's Community Shield presents him with his best chance yet, especially if you consider the Gunners pre-season form compared to Chelsea's. Saying that, the Blues are usually the ones that get the better start when it comes to a new season, and indeed go onto have better campaigns than Arsenal have had in recent years. It certainly will be an interesting match-up.
The rivalry continues
It seems every time Mourinho takes on Arsene Wenger there's always some sort of pre-match jibe that takes place. Once again this was the case in the build-up to the Community Shield as the rivalry between London's top clubs embarks on a new chapter going into the upcoming season.
This year's Premier League campaign could be one of the most open in years. Chelsea of course will go into it as favourites but if Arsenal were to roll them over on Sunday going into the new season, then pundits may be hedging their bets elsewhere. This year's Community Shield though should be a good measure of where each team is going into the new campaign. It could meanwhile see the start of a rivalry for the title between the two sides for the rest of the 2015/16 season.
Old foes take on each other
One of the most interesting aspects about this year's Community Shield will be the fact that two players each set of fans never thought they'd see in the opposite jersey will take on each other. Petr Cech is of course now an Arsenal player after being given special dispensation by Roman Abramovich to leave the Blues, and stay in London. Cesc Fabregas will meanwhile line-up for Chelsea against Arsenal, a club that he owes much of his career too.
Fabregas has of course already endured a year with Chelsea and had a very successful season. However he'll be eager to get one up on his old side as he did last term at Stamford Bridge. Because of his move from Barcelona to Chelsea though he could well receive another hostile reception from Gunners fans. Cech, on the other hand, will expectantly receive a good reception. He didn't leave Chelsea in a sour manner but it will be strange to see him lining up against a side he starred in for 11 years.
The script is firmly written for Petr Cech, in his first competitive appearance for Arsenal, to beat his former employers at Wembley. After all, Cech has won two trophies in two games, albeit the Barclays Asia Trophy and the Emirates Cup. The Community Shield is much more prestigious than those though.
How they'll line-up
With Wojciech Szczesny being loaned out to Roma in the week, Petr Cech, who is very much the centre of attention at the moment, is likely to start in goal. David Ospina was back in training with the Arsenal team this week after playing for Colombia at the Copa America but isn't fit to play yet. Alexis Sanchez isn't back either but is set to resume training next week as he prepares to be fit for the opening weeks of the season.
The Gunners only really have one injury worry at the moment though and that's forward Danny Welbeck. It's disappointing for him that he wasn't able to enjoy a full first pre-season with Arsenal, but he'll be looking to impress as soon as he's back. Apart from Welbeck's injury, the Gunners go into the Community Shield with a near fully fit squad which is hugely encouraging going into a new campaign.
Who starts up front could be interesting though with Theo Walcott impressing in that position in pre-season. Olivier Giroud may well be given the chance with West Ham in mind next weekend though. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could start due to impressive displays on the wings in pre-season whilst Mesut Ozil will look to continue his excellent form shown in the Gunners friendly games. The other dilemma for Arsene Wenger will be in the deeper regions of midfield where Wilshere, Ramsey and Cazorla have looked in good touch. Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy may also battle it out for a place at right back.
Chelsea, however, will look to their star studded forward line with Radamel Falcao now adding to an attack that already bolsters Diego Costa who is likely to start on Sunday, and Loic Remy who impressed when he played last season. Eden Hazard will meanwhile look to carry on his excellent form from 2014/15, a season that saw him win the PFA Player of the Year award.
The Chelsea side pretty much picks itself though as the defence is likely to compose of the regulars from last year with Fabregas and Matic alongside each other in midfield. Kurt Zouma may well start though after being given surprise opportunities in a number of big games previously.
It will be a game that Arsenal should look to make a real statement of intent in going into the 2015/16 season. A win over Chelsea would signify that the Gunners are here to properly challenge this season. A victory for Chelsea however, would only secure their place as the best team in England.