It’s Community Shield day today and although I’ll be out and unlikely to be able to watch it, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the game, because it is the final dress rehearsal before the real stuff next week.
It’ll be a tough game today. Chelsea will be ready for us and I am under no illusions that Conte will have learned something from last seasons FA Cup final defeat. He’ll be treating this game as a proper one and I expect him to go for a side that is certainly capable of doing us over. So that’ll be Courtois, Luiz, Cahill, Azperluicuillahsusvajaua, Moses and Alonso as the wing backs, with Fabregas and Kante in the middle. Their front three will include Pedro, who Ospina levelled, Batshuyai who ripped us apart, as well as new signing Morata and I’m intrigued to see how he gets on. Much like Lacazette, he might need time to adapt to the English game, but unlike Lacazette, I think Morata will be thrown in every week.
With Giroud looking good in pre season and Wenger talking him up at times, I’m not so sure Lacazette will be guaranteed a start, certainly not today. There’s something different about Giroud when he’s got a bit of competition about him and I think he might be given the nod.
Behind him we’ll see Özil, but with Alexis only just back last week, I suspect Welbeck will be given a shot behind Giroud. I would imagine that both Lacazette and Alexis will feature at some point though.
In midfield it’ll be Rambo and Xhaka and the full backs will probably be Kolasinac and Bellerin, although I do wonder if the Ox might be given the nod. He was brilliant in that position at the end of the season – better than Bellerin I thought – so personally that’s who I’d go with, with Monreal, Mertesacker and Koscielny at the back. I’d probably prefer to see Holding for Monreal, but I think Arsène loves a bit of experience in the shape of Nacho, so that’s who I think starts the seasons opener.
Then you’ve got Cech at the back to complete the lot and it’s up to them to go out there and show that they can continue where they left off in May.
I’m not sure whether or not the team will, but more importantly I’m looking for big performances from Rambo and Xhaka, because I think that is where we will see whether this formation is for the long term and whether we can do it long term too. The set up seems to work for the both of them and I think that for us to go into next week’s game with more hope for the season, we have to see that partnership work, above all else.
I think today will be a more even game than the friendly a couple of weeks ago. Our players will be more ready and less knackered through travelling and Chelsea players have only just got back. We know this competition means the square root of eff all, but it’s still something that would be good to win, so we’ll just have to hope that the players do what’s needed too. But the good thing about this game is that we can write it off as meaningless. Suits me just fine.
Catch you tomorrow.