Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (5-4 on pens): Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secures Community Shield shootout win
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the decisive spot-kick as Arsenal overcame Premier League champions Liverpool on penalties to secure the Community Shield after a 1-1 draw at an overcast Wembley.
Aubameyang put the Gunners in front with a brilliant finish following a sweeping move to give Mikel Arteta’s FA Cup holders the lead after just 12 minutes.
- How Arsenal and Liverpool lined up
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But Liverpool dominated the second period and deservedly levelled when substitute Takumi Minamino slotted his first goal since his January move from Red Bull Salzburg (73) to send the game to penalties.
Rhian Brewster was introduced in second-half stoppage time ahead of the shootout, but it was his miss which proved costly as his spot-kick clipped the bar, allowing Aubameyang to step up and seal victory for the Gunners.
Arsenal: Martinez (8), Holding (6), Luiz (6), Tierney (7), Bellerin (7), Elneny (7), Xhaka (7), Maitland-Niles (8), Saka (8), Nketiah (6), Aubameyang (8).
Subs: Cedric (6), Nelson (n/a), Willock (n/a), Kolasinac (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Williams (5), Gomez (6), van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Milner (6), Fabinho (5), Wijnaldum (5), Salah (5), Firmino (6), Mane (7).
Subs: Keita (6), Jones (n/a), Minamino (8), Brewster (n/a).
Man of the match: Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Feel-good factor continues for Arsenal
Less than a month after the FA Cup final was played, the traditional curtain-raiser took place in autumnal conditions as the Gunners laid down a marker in the driving rain with an eighth success in their last 10 Community Shield appearances.
Arteta described the timing of this glamorised friendly as “awkward” but there is never a bad time to be beating Liverpool. They overcame an early scare as Virgil Van Dijk correctly saw his goal ruled out for offside from Andrew Robertson’s set-piece. But then we were reminded of the identity Arteta has brought to this Arsenal side.
Emi Martinez began a seven-pass move playing out from the back as the excellent Bukayo Saka found Aubameyang in his favoured left-side position. Kieran Tierney’s overlap was enough to prevent Neco Williams from getting close as Arsenal’s talisman cut onto his right boot and unleashed an unstoppable shot low into the bottom corner.
It was a special strike followed by a special celebration as the Gabonese striker paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing Black Panther in the hit Marvel superhero franchise, who has died aged 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.
The margin of Arsenal’s half-time lead might have been greater had Eddie Nketiah not been wasteful on two occasions – both set up by Saka. The first chance came at him after good play by Granit Xhaka in midfield as Alisson was alert to his low shot down to his left before Saka again found the young striker in space but his shot cleared the crossbar.
Virgil van Dijk was fit to start in defence as James Milner skippered Premier League champions Liverpool.The Netherlands defender came off in Tuesday’s friendly against Red Bull Salzburg with a cut above his right eye but started as Jurgen Klopp named a strong-looking side at Wembley.
Emiliano Martinez got the nod ahead of Bernd Leno between the sticks for Arsenal, while Rob Holding started in defence despite reports that a loan move to Newcastle is imminent.
Liverpool had offered very little and had looked the side with just a week’s training following a curtailed break. Klopp spoke bullishly this week of not setting out to “defend their Premier League title but to attack it” – and his side started the second period with real purpose as Roberto Firmino’s curling shot veered just wide of Martinez’s left-hand post after 51 minutes.
Moments later, Arsenal were thankful to Martinez as Sadio Mane was found by Robertson clear of Rob Holding but the Arsenal goalkeeper kept out his shot with his legs to preserve Arsenal’s lead.
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Klopp turned to Minamino just before the hour mark to provide Arsenal with a different problem to the industrious James Milner. With the rain falling heavily over Wembley, Arsenal began to fatigue and within 14 minutes of his introduction, Minamino had his first Liverpool goal.
Mohamed Salah cut in from the right before the ball fell kindly for the Japanese forward to slot past Martinez. There was a brief pause to check the goal for handball but replays showed it had brushed the arm of Cedric Soares rather than the Liverpool substitute in the build-up.
By now, Liverpool sensed the opportunity to win the game within 90 minutes as Robertson’s deep cross was chested down superbly by Mane but Martinez was out quickly to smother the angle. There was still time for Joe Willock to snatch victory for Arsenal but he headed Cedric’s cross wide when well placed.
But the contest was decided on penalties, and after Brewster’s effort thundered onto the crossbar it was left to Aubameyang to send Alisson the wrong way to complete five perfect spot-kicks and a 16th Community Shield success from Arsenal.
What the managers said
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “I keep saying the same thing [on Aubameyang’s future]. I try to do my job which is to convince him that he’s at the right place and the right environment here to produce moments like he’s done today and he did here just three weeks ago. I am very positive that he’s going to sign. There are a lot of things that are involved in a contract deal and we’re trying to solve them.
- Arteta confident Auba will commit to Arsenal
“The move from the team for the goal we scored was really good and Aubameyang puts the ball all the time where it belongs which is in the back of the net. The way he took the last penalty was really good and it’s another trophy for us. I’m delighted with his performance with and without the ball.
“I’m not worried [about the situation with Aubameyang]. We can only try to do as much as possible to convince the player or tell them what we think about him. We can put all the cards on the table to try to keep him here but afterwards it’s down to the player and the agent to agree to that. I think we’ve built a really good relationship between us and hopefully we can do it. Now, I am confident and I’m happy. I can see how he behaves every day and how much he works in training. It’s a really good sign.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “We were here to win the game, I hope that much was obvious. We didn’t lose the game but we lost the competition. If we scored earlier that would’ve helped but there wasn’t enough time.
“I was pleased with parts of the game. I know what situation we’re in from a physical and technical point of view. Against a 5-4-1 and a side with a low block you need fresh legs. Now we have two weeks to prepare the new season.
“We had to get control back of the game and we had that in the second half. Arsenal didn’t really create chances and we had to work hard to win back the ball. We had our two or three big moments that we didn’t take and that’s the reason for the result.”
Liverpool’s shootout woe – Opta stats
- Arsenal have won the Community Shield for a 16th time (including shared titles), overtaking opponents Liverpool (15 times) and only behind Manchester United (21). Indeed, the Gunners have won the trophy in four of the last seven seasons.
- Liverpool are the first side ever to lose the Community Shield on penalties in back-to-back years; this is also the first time the Reds have participated in the competition twice in two seasons without winning it (including shared) since the 1983 and 1984 matches.
- Arsenal have won the Community Shield as FA Cup winners seven times (including as league/cup double winners and including shared titles) – more than any other side. Indeed, each of their last four Community Shield victories have come as FA Cup winners.
- Arsenal are only the second side to win the Community Shield after a penalty shootout more than once, after Manchester United (five times).
- Arsenal have won nine of their last 11 penalty shootouts in all competitions, including two in the Community Shield. Meanwhile, Liverpool have lost three of their last five shootouts, including two in the Community Shield.
Man of the match – Ainsley Maitland-Niles
There were so many positives for Arteta, although it’s curious that two of the star performers were goalkeeper Martinez and wing-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles – two players who have been strongly linked with moves away from Arsenal in the coming weeks.
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Saturday was the versatile midfielder’s 23rd birthday, capped later in the evening by a call-up to the England squad for the forthcoming Nations League double-header against Iceland and Denmark.
He played superbly on the left wing with Tierney providing support to nullify the threat of Mohamed Salah. This was a supremely disciplined display to add to his impressive outing against Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez in the FA Cup semi-final.
Eight of Arsenal’s FA Cup-winning side started with Maitland-Niles among them, but he has been lined with a move to Wolves this summer. There is a need to raise funds but perhaps there are still big decisions to be made about just who is allowed to leave.
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