1st August 2015
The Community Shield match between Arsenal and Chelsea tomorrow has more intrigue than being the season opener and a glorified friendly with the appearance of Petr Cech for the Gunners. An unseemly spat between Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger marks the new season of petty feuds fuelled by a media frenzy. The match is being played during the Third Test between England and Australia which is far too soon.
The thinking behind playing the fixture in the first week in August is to truncate the end of the season ahead of Euro 2016. This is a nonsense because England will yet again underachieve because the best players play too much football and too few potential England internationals play in the Premier League. The FA will point to a healthy crowd at Wembley and the new television deal as evidence that the market wants an unlimited amount of football.
However, West Ham played in the Europa League at the start of July which is a farcical situation. Fortunately they don’t have many players on their books destined for the England squad at the Euros. Their ground sold out for the European fixture which indicates an appetite for summer soccer. Even so it is irritating that Wenger and Mourinho are already trying to score points before a ball has been kicked in anger.
The Special One was defensive about his title-winning men last season and highlighted some of their progressive play before the turn of the year. John Terry and co. dug in towards the end of the season but it will go down as one of the most uninteresting in the Premier League era. Mourinho fashioned a side to win the league and he achieved that objective. Excelling in the Champions League is the next step and the manager has led two sides to be kings of Europe.
Much will again depend on the contribution from Eden Hazard who was the best player of last season. Diego Costa served his main function by scoring consistently but injury concerns could hamper his influence this time in the opening exchanges. He could miss the Arsenal match in which Gary Cahill may not figure after breaking his nose in the 2-2 draw with Barcelona. Cech was only called upon in early rounds of the Cup competitions and was the definite number two behind Thibaut Courtois.
Didier Drogba has left the club again and Radamel Falcao has arrived from Manchester United. He scored just four goals in the Premier League last season and didn’t seem to get on with Louis Van Gaal. Falcao never looked fully fit during his time with United and that could have been a legacy of a knee injury which meant he missed the World Cup. Despite that blip he has scored 142 goals in 255 matches for his various clubs.
Cech was allowed to move across London because the Chelsea hierarchy appreciated his loyal service and contribution during most of the Roman Abramovich era. At his peak he was the best keeper in the league and could still give Arsenal five years service. His new club were outstanding in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the Cup Final and will be looking to build on that result by winning the Premier League for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Arsenal have yet to make a marquee signing but Karim Benzema would be a great addition to a strong squad. Jack Wilshere finally delivered for England at the end of last season and Theo Walcott is still relatively young for a player with so much experience. The central characters in the Wembley fixture will be the two managers and Cech but Falcao can get his career back on track by scoring the winner in a Chelsea 1-0 win.
Tip: Chelsea 1-0 and Radamel Falcao scorecast at 40/1.
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Page 4 - Yours In Sport with Kevan Minter - The Colonel.
Page 5 - Tropics Is A Group Horse In A Handicap.
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