Five reasons everyone must watch the Community Shield final

Date published: Friday 28th August 2020 7:48 - Matthew Stead


Arsenal face Liverpool in the #annualcurtainraiser to the upcoming campaign on Saturday: the Community Shield final. That said curtain was only actually lowered less than a week ago takes further sheen away from an already dull and dreary game that most tend not to care about but at least watch because there has been no football for three months. One of these teams won the FA Cup final earlier this month, for the love of Chris Kiwomya.

We will have a Wembley gander; it’s kind of our jobs. Here are five reasons you should tune in, too.


A weakened Liverpool
Jordan Henderson is injured. Trent Alexander-Arnold was not a part of the pre-season tour of Austria, during which Virgil van Dijk was substituted after sustaining a cut to his head. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unavailable. Andy Lonergan has been released.

Liverpool will not be at full strength against Arsenal. Neco Williams could feature, as well as Curtis Jones. Hell, Naby sodding Keita might even get a game. And this machine is always at its most compelling when one of the cogs needs replacing.


The use of Willian
With little over a fortnight remaining until the Premier League season begins, Arsenal have made two additions to their existing squad. William Saliba has already proven himself to be the single greatest centre-half in the history of the sport, while Willian arrived under a financial cloud that still needs shifting.

The former has an obvious place in the first team; the latter less so. Mikel Arteta was understandably keen to highlight Willian’s “experience” but also the “versatility” of a player who fulfils their “clear intention to strengthen in the attacking midfielder and the winger positions”. One report suggested that Arsenal felt Frank Lampard ‘mislabelled’ the Brazilian as a predominantly wide player, despite Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho and Shakhtar often either allowing him to start more centrally or drift in and out of such areas.

Mesut Ozil ended this past season as Arsenal’s leading chance creator, despite being ostracised with plenty of games remaining. There is a need for imagination and vision behind that potentially lethal attack. Willian will never produce the same numbers as the German at their respective peaks but at least allies his invention with hard work, dedication and professionalism. He will play a vital role under Arteta; the only question is where.


A rare sight of Rhian Brewster
Jurgen Klopp could not have asked for a more ideal squad option than the 20-year-old academy product with the hunger to prove a point, the pedigree to score a goal every other game throughout his admittedly brief professional career, and the ability to make an enemy of Danny Murphy. Rhian Brewster is a younger, better and more cost-effective alternative than Divock Origi or Xherdan Shaqiri, but Liverpool must start clearing his first-team pathway before other clubs take serious notice.

Brewster made his first Premier League bench in April 2017 and has a Champions League winner’s medal in his primitive but promising collection yet the striker continues to wait remarkably patiently for his Liverpool debut. Three goals in two pre-season games, as well as that sensational loan with Swansea, makes as persuasive a case as possible for an imminent and permanent first-team promotion. There must be meaningful minutes this weekend.


A Xhaka-Elneny pivot
Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s and Mo Elneny joined Fenerbahce for £3.4m in January. Yet he inexplicably remains at Arsenal, casually scoring from 40 yards against MK Dons and establishing himself as a legitimate potential short-term asset. Those two points are not necessarily related.

Arteta has already made reliable defenders of Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac, while overseeing the career renaissance of Granit Xhaka, so Elneny becoming a useful midfield choice again is not quite as outlandish as it may first seem. The loss of Dani Ceballos means he has been used alongside Xhaka this ‘summer’, with that trend likely to continue on Saturday. They last started as a central pair together for Arsenal in April 2018, beating Southampton 3-2. Elneny was sent off. Oh.


To see if Liverpool even turn up
After all…


Matt Stead


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