The winner does not take it all, certainly not with only the Community Shield at stake, but after Arsenal won the first penalty shoot-out on these shores under the new ‘ABBA’ system, the unbridled celebrations spoke volumes as to how much it means to Arsene Wenger as he prepares to fire-fight his way through another long campaign.
For Antonio Conte, also, with Chelsea, the champions, losing and the manager cutting an unhappy figure on the touchline as he raged against a series of perceived injustices. The cracker-jack Italian said last week that he wanted to avoid a “Mourinho season” – with Jose Mourinho sacked a few short months after bringing the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge – but it has started as one. Two years ago Mourinho lost the Community Shield. And lost it to Arsenal. By December he was gone.
That is the doomsday scenario and, of course, far, far too much can be read into this feisty game where ring-rust remained, squads need to be finalised, players were at different levels of fitness and many key performers were sat on the bench, in the stands or not even at Wembley. Maybe there were four expected starters absent apiece with Arsenal missing Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey – both injury doubts also for the first league match at home to Leicester City this Friday – Laurent Koscielny and wantaway Alexis Sanchez, who donned his shades and, nevertheless, joined in the cavorting at the end.