English Community Shield Prediction: Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Salzburg’s Jerome Onguene, left, and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane challenge for the ball during a friendly soccer match between RB Salzburg and FC Liverpool in Salzburg, Austria, Tuesday, Aug.25, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Tomorrow, soccer fans around the world will get their first taste of English football for the 2020-2021 season as Arsenal take on Liverpool in the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium. Both teams ended the past season on high notes and hope to start off the new season with a bang, adding some silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Liverpool were crowned the Premier League Champions for the first time in 30 years. In the past two seasons, the Reds were able to not only hoist the Premier League Trophy, but also the Champions League Trophy. It’s safe to say that this past season, Liverpool were the most dominant team in English football. The squad from head to toe is filled with world-class talent, as well as some very interesting young prospects hoping to make an impact in the upcoming season. 

Liverpool’s squad which features a three-headed dragon in Roberto Firminio, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are arguably the most terrifying front three in the world. It looks more than likely that these three players will feature in the upcoming match as well as defensive juggernaut Virgil van Dijk. The Reds will be missing captain Jordan Henderson with an injury he picked up at the end of last season. Defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is also more than likely to miss the game after getting injured during training. 

The end of last season didn’t go as planned for Liverpool as their form was in question during Project Restart. Don’t let that undermine the success they have had under manager Jürgen Klopp. Since coming to Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Klopp has worked wonders, changing the club from meme central to arguably the best club in the world. 

The last time these two clubs squared off, Liverpool were shocked by the Gunners, losing 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium. This game then pushed Liverpool out of reach of the 100-point club. The Reds would’ve joined Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid as the only clubs to record 100 points in a single season in Europe’s top five leagues. Liverpool will definitely be looking for revenge as Arsenal looks to continue growing under Manager Mikel Arteta. 

Arsenal’s last season was a rollercoaster ride. The club went through three managers and had its worst Premier League season in the past 25 years. The Gunners finished in eighth place, but after a string of wins in the FA Cup, they faced Chelsea in the Finals, playing for a trophy and European football. Arsenal went on to beat Chelsea as club captain Pierre Emirick-Aubameyang scored two goals leading the squad to their 14th FA cup title. 

Arsenal haven’t seen the same success since the early 2000s, as the club hasn’t won the Premier League since their invincible season in 2004. The club saw minimal success under former manager Unai Emery, as the club finished 5th in the league in 2019, missing out on Champions League play. Arsenal also made it to the Europa League Final where they would lose to Chelsea 4-1. 

After Emery’s firing, the team was handed over to club legend Freddie Ljungberg as he earned the title of Interim Manager. After mixed results, the team then hired former player Mikel Arteta as manager. Since Arteta’s takeover, Arsenal seems to be headed in the right direction. Arteta has been determined to change the culture at the club and is committed to doing so.

Arsenal’s squad for the match will be a mixing pot as the team is in a transition period going through the transfer window. The club will have their leading goal scorer and captain Aubameyang on the field, as the skipper played in their exhibition match last week. The team will also more than likely include promising defender William Saliba and fan favorite Kieran Tierney. 

Missing from this squad could potentially be striker Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman’s name has been swirling around the transfer world, linking him to Spanish club Atletico Madrid and Italian giants Juventus. Another player that could be left off the squad is defender Hector Bellerin. The defender was spotted on vacation and could have to abide by the countries quarantine restrictions. The Spaniard also has been linked with a move away from the club, with PSG and Juventus monitoring his situation. 

Two players that will definitely not participate in the match are midfielder Dani Ceballos and defender Shkordan Mustafi. Ceballos, who was on loan at Arsenal, has returned to parent club Real Madrid. Arsenal are keen on bringing back the Spain International as he played a key role for the club down the stretch. Mustafi will miss the match after undergoing a recent procedure on his hamstring. The world cup winner suffered the injury in the semifinals of the FA Cup against Manchester City.

With all the missing holes in the squad, Arsenal hope to be competitive in the match. If there’s anything Arsenal have taught the world in the last couple months, it’s that as long as Aubameyang is on the field, they have a chance at victory. Arteta hopes to keep his magic going and add another trophy to his young career as manager. 

No matter what competition, it always turns out to be an exciting game and these teams have not disappointed in their last two meetings. With that being said, someone easily can say Liverpool will dominate because of the amount of class in their squad. However, Liverpool over the last couple games showed that at times they get too comfortable and lack focus. On the other hand, Arsenal will be looking to keep their good form going. In order to stay competitive, they will need to rely on possession and their creativity. They will also need to pray that their defense doesn’t crumble and can resist the Reds attack.  

I believe that the final will be more interesting than people assume. With both teams determined to win, I believe the match will end 2-2 and head to a shootout where Arsenal will get the best of Liverpool and win 5-4 on penalties. 

The game will be on at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time on ESPN+.

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