Ar­se­nal and Chelsea re­new their ri­valry

CityPress - - Sport -

Goal­keeper Petr Čech will come up against his for­mer em­ploy­ers for the first time when Ar­se­nal and Chelsea do bat­tle in the Com­mu­nity Shield this af­ter­noon.

In what prom­ises to be an en­thralling pre­sea­son clash at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, many view the con­test be­tween these two sides as the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to as­sess their ti­tle cre­den­tials ahead of the new Premier League cam­paign.

The ac­qui­si­tion of Čech from the Blues is seen as a trans­fer mas­ter­stroke by many pun­dits, a sub­ject which has sparked a new-found con­fi­dence in the Gun­ners’ abil­ity to mount a sus­tained ti­tle chal­lenge.

Blues boss José Mour­inho was seem­ingly pow­er­less to stop Čech’s trans­fer to the Emi­rates Sta­dium, and he will un­doubt­edly be quizzed on the sub­ject ahead of the show­piece. While the sign­ing of Čech is cur­rently Ar­se­nal’s only sum­mer ad­di­tion, Chelsea have been slightly more ac­tive in the off-sea­son trans­fer win­dow.

Mour­inho made the cu­ri­ous de­ci­sion to bring Colom­bian striker Radamel Fal­cao back to the Premier League, de­spite an un­der­whelm­ing loan stint at Manch­ester United last term, where he scored just four goals in 26 Premier League ap­pear­ances.

Fal­cao could well fea­ture to­day, with first-choice front­man Diego Costa nurs­ing a per­sis­tent ham­string prob­lem, although Mour­inho may opt to hand a start to Loïc Rémy with a view to bring­ing the on-loan striker on as an im­pact sub­sti­tute.

New sign­ings aside, all the usual sus­pects will be in­volved for Ar­se­nal, but Chelsea will be with­out the ser­vices of Di­dier Drogba, who left on a free trans­fer.

In the lead-up to to­day’s much-an­tic­i­pated clash, Mour­inho has raised the stakes by com­ment­ing on Ar­se­nal’s trans­fer pol­icy in re­cent sea­sons. This, af­ter sug­gest­ing Chelsea’s ri­vals were try­ing to buy the ti­tle.

Mour­inho told re­porters: “If you add up the amounts clubs have spent in the past three or four years, I think maybe you will find a sur­prise. If you put Me­sut Özil plus Alexis Sánchez, plus Calum Cham­bers, plus Mathieu De­buchy, you will find a sur­prise.”

Mour­inho’s com­ments prompted a terse re­sponse from Arsène Wenger. “One day you will look at the play­ers we have de­vel­oped here com­pared to the spend­ing of other clubs and you will be sur­prised,” the French­man told re­porters.

“I get dif­fer­ent re­proaches – that I don’t spend enough, then I spend too much. I let other peo­ple talk.”

While the Com­mu­nity Shield is noth­ing more than a cur­tain-raiser to the new sea­son, the fact that Wenger and Mour­inho have a long-run­ning and some­times nasty ri­valry is bound to add an ex­tra layer of ex­cite­ment and in­trigue to the fix­ture.

Ar­se­nal de­feated Manch­ester City 3-0 in last year’s Com­mu­nity Shield, but it’s hard to imag­ine a re­peat of the feat this time around. Mour­inho is no­to­ri­ous for his de­fen­sive style of football and will cer­tainly try to nul­lify the at­tack­ing threat of the Gun­ners.

Let’s hope he doesn’t de­cide to park the bus and turn to­day’s en­counter into a lack­lus­tre pre­sea­son friendly.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

CON­TEST Cesc Fàbre­gas of Chelsea and Alexis Sánchez of Ar­se­nal bat­tle for the ball last sea­son

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