It did not have quite the significance nor the glory of the FA Cup final, a mere 28 days ago. But the storyline remains the same: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is centre stage and Mikel Arteta keeps winning at Wembley.
Pre-match favourites were once again undone by Arteta’s game plan and Aubameyang, apparently always on the brink of signing a new Arsenal contract but never quite there, delivers the goals which are accumulating an unlikely haul of silverware.
Arsenal, a club that has endured huge turmoil in the past year, not least over the summer where staff have been sacked and executives removed, exude a defiant optimism. Despite the pay cuts imposed on players and the financial issues caused by lockdown and the lack of Champions League football, they continue to make unexpected progress.
The winning strike from Aubameyang was in the penalty shoot-out, which came after the 1-1 draw. It was decisive and struck with the authority of a man in the prime of his career, hard and high into the top corner, beyond Alisson.
It was the fifth of Arsenal’s penalties, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric Soares and David Luiz having preceded him in a perfect shoot-out.
For Liverpool, Mohamed Salah and Fabinho were both on target before Rhian Brewster stepped up. He was only brought on in the 90th minute, presumably specifically to take a penalty. However, his strike, pretty much his first touch, though firmly struck was high and crashed off the bar. As such, successful strikes from Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones couldn’t prise the initiative back.
So yet again it was Arsenal taking home a trophy against the odds. Once more they eschewed possession and gambled that their pace on the break would secure them a trophy. It is, you suspect, a game plan some way short of Arteta’s ultimate ambitions to dominate games. But needs must at present. And given the quality of the opponents he has defeated lately there will be no rush to change.
He has undone the best-laid plans of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool at this stadium, emerged triumphant in tactical jousts with Pep Guardiola, Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp. For a 38-year old rookie, that’s some record. Now comes the trickier part. How to sustain that over a season?
‘That’s a different task,’ admitted Arteta. ‘I don’t think it’s a one-off when you beat the teams that we beat in the last two months consistently. But obviously after ten months the table showed last season that we were a long way away and the gap is enormous. And we have to try to close the gap as quickly as possible and there are a lot of aspects we have to improve.’
For now though the counter attack slickness suits them just fine. The passing leading up to their opening goal was delightful, not least the a glorious crossfield Bukayo Saka pass to Aubameyang.
On scoring, the Arsenal striker performed a homage to deceased actor Chadwick Boseman, crossing his arms in the Wakanda Forever salute, just as Boseman’s Black Panther did in his most-celebrated film.
Yet there was also a tribute to Thierry Henry in that moment. It was the way in which Aubameyang exuded authority the second he received the ball from Saka. Neco Williamas, 19, who had played well going forward and was deputising for Trent Alexander-Arnold, was mere prey and Aubemeyang hunted him down mercilessly, just as Henry once did with defenders. He took the ball, paused and the cut inside, with a burst of pace, his power easing his way to goal.
Then came the shot, curling yet powerful, beyond the reach of Alisson: pure Thierry. After that was Wakanda celebration and a broad grin of delight, though you never got a smile from Henry. So much for Arsenal still hinges on their latest No.14 signing his new contract.
For Liverpool, this was a minor disappointment and there was a clear sense that it will take a few weeks to be fully up to speed. Jurgen Klopp will however take solace in the fact that last season’s Community Shield against Manchester City followed precisely this pattern. And last season didn’t end up so badly.
Here Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané did not quite induce the terror that the names of the team-sheet suggested. The endeavour was honest and there was a sense of peak fitness coming. And they missed Alexander Arnold, not just defensively but as a key creative outlet as well.
With Arsenal, there is a slick fluidity and a renewed energy. You see it in the born-again David Luiz, the revived Granit Xhaka but more than anyone, you see it in Bukayo Saka and Maitland-Niles. Saka was involved in everything good down the right but also when switching to the left, he too sensed a weakness in Williams, got in front of him on 45 minutes and delivered a superb low cross with which Nketiah couldn’t quite connect.
Maitland-Niles is a revelation as a wing back under Arteta, an energetic blur patrolling the left flank. He celebrated his 23rd birthday with a man-of-the match performance and an England call up. Wolves want to sign him but Arsenal surely can’t let an academy gem leave?
Arteta seemingly will apply tough love. ‘He has to convince me every day on training that he can compete at this level not every three months but every three days,’ he said. ‘At the moment he is showing me he can do it and he is changing a lot of things around him to become the player he can be. The best way to show a player what the manager thinks about him is to play him.’
When Arsenal did falter, they had the might of Emiliano Martinez to rely on, another linked with moves away but surely on the brink of being seemingly established as Arteta’s No.1? When Sadio Mané was in on goal on 56 minutes, the Argentine made his 6’3” frame look even bigger, a giant blocking the way through to goal. Generally though the Arsenal back three – which was often a back five thanks to the energy of Hector Bellerin and Maitland-Niles – were too assiduous to allow such chances.
Liverpool though just weren’t quite the finely-tuned machine we have come to expect. What was familiar was the forward runs and reaching crosses of Andy Robertson and the power in the air of Virgil van Dijk. On six minutes it looked as though that combination had established a lead, when Robertson placed his free kick on the Dutchman’s head and Van Dijk headed home. He was, however, just offside. And just before that Aubameyang opener, Williams had delivered a cross of similar quality onto the head on Milner, who, with a free header, should have done better than directing the ball wide.
It took a change from Jurgen Klopp to get his side back in the game. On came Takumi Minamino, with Salah moving central and Firmino dropping behind him in what was almost a 4-2-4. There is never backward step taken with Klopp.
Eventually it paid off on 73 minutes, the sheer number of bodies in the box eventually bamboozling Arsenal. Minamino’s neat touch found Salah, who chested it back to his teammate, with Arsenal vainly appealing for handball, If anything Salah’s chest pass came off the arm of Cedric Soares and fell into the path of Minamino. He adjusted his body shape and prodded home from close range to take the game to that penalty shoot-out.
Relive all the action between Arsenal and Liverpool with Sportsmail’s live coverage on the day below:
It’s heaven once again at Wembley for Arsenal! They have won the Community Shield.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was once again decisive, having netted the opener and then the final penalty to ensure Mikel Arteta will get his hands on another trophy just four weeks after their FA Cup triumph.
For Liverpool, it was Takumi Minamino with his maiden goal for the club who levelled the scores – but spare a thought for young Rhian Brewster, who clattered his spot kick against the woodwork.
That’s all for Sportsmail’s live coverage for this one, thanks for sticking with us!
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has promised not to drop the silverware this time!
He told BT Sport: ‘I feel very good. Today we deserved the win. I will take this trophy and hopefully this time I won’t drop it! I am very happy. We’re going to see [about a new contract]. Today we get the trophy.’
Rhian Brewster has been comforted by Curtis Jones, Jurgen Klopp and Roberto Firmino on the field. That was a difficult moment for him.
As for the winners, once again they’ll have to make do with lifting the trophy with no supporters there to cheer them on!
Arsenal have clinched their 16th Community Shield after that textbook shootout. Five attempts, five goals. That’s how it’s done!
Who else was it going to be? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has just fired in the decisive penalty, and Arsenal have won the Community Shield!
It was a superb spot kick, fired high into the top right corner. This is Mikel Arteta’s second trophy in the space of just four weeks!
He’s struck the top of the bar!
Well then… we’re going to penalties!
90+2min: Rhian Brewster has replaced Gini Wijnaldum. That was definitely a decision taken with penalties in mind.
90+1min: Chance for Liverpool… Sadio Mane curled in a cross for Andy Robertson, who won his header but steered off target from a matter of yards.
90min: Three minutes added on! Joe Willock has just fired in a ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the near post, but he could only divert out of play on the line.
88min: Arsenal came forward once again as we edge towards the final whistle. Ainsley Maitland-Niles whipped in another cross into the box, which was just beyond the reach of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
86min: It may be Liverpool who have moved into the ascendency, but Arsenal have just missed a guilt-edged chance to score again!
Cedric Soares delivered from the right, and Joe Willock slipped in between Joe Gomez and Fabinho to nod towards his goal. He could only head his chance wide of the left-hand post, however.
84min: Both teams have made yet more changes. It’s a triple sweep for Arsenal – Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah have been replaced by Sead Kolasinac, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.
Curtis Jones is on in place of Roberto Firmino for Liverpool.
81min: Liverpool have dominated since their equaliser! Takumi Minamino went down inside the box and appealed for a penalty after Mohamed Elneny’s tackle, but the referee was unmoved.
The ball then found its way to Sadio Mane a couple of minutes later for a glorious chance. The forward controlled well on his chest, but once again Emi Martinez stood his ground superbly to make the stop.
75min: The ball certainly broke kindly for Takumi Minamino, who joined Liverpool in January. It had struck a couple of players either side of the Japan international, but the forward kept his cool to pick his spot.
VAR did check the goal, but the deflection certainly came off Cedric Soares. All square!
That’s his first Liverpool goal! Mohamed Salah had raced along the front of the Arsenal penalty area from right to left, searching for an angle to shoot. He then handed the ball to Takumi Minamino, who opened up his body and fired in beyond Emi Martinez to level the scores.
71min: Liverpool have continued to press forward. Andrew Robertson once again clipped in a fine cross into the box, and Arsenal were unable to clear well. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane then combined down the left-hand side, but once again the final ball was found wanting.
70min: Bukayo Saka surged beyond Georginio Wijnaldum down the right and fired a powerful effort towards goal. The shot looked as though it was travelling wide but Alisson took no chances and, in attempting to make the save, carried the ball out for a corner.
The Liverpool stopper was then fouled from the set piece.
68min: Takumi Minamino was afforded a glimpse of a shooting angle from around 25 yards out. The substitute attempted to bend his effort into the top left corner, but Emi Martinez was able to field with ease.
67min: Ouch, that looked painful. Eddie Nketiah was on the receiving end of a boot in the chest from Naby Keita. The collision was clearly accidental though, and the Arsenal ace is fine to continue.
63min: Both teams are struggling to settle into any sort of rhythm now, but it’s the FA Cup holders who still hold that narrow lead.
A reminder – if this game is level at full-time, then we will have a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner. No extra time.
60min: Naby Keita was involved straight away and wildly lashed an effort from 30 yards well off target.
Those changes from Liverpool mean that Fabinho will partner Virgil van Dijk, with Joe Gomez now shifting across to right back.
60min: Jurgen Klopp has also opted to reshuffle his pack. Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita have replaced Neco Williams and James Milner.
58min: Hector Bellerin is replaced by Cedric Soares in the game’s first change. Expect that to be the first of many.
James Milner also picked up the first caution moments ago after sliding in rashly on Eddie Nketiah.
57min: Good chance for Liverpool! Sadio Mane raced on to a long ball over the top of the Arsenal backline, but Emi Martinez had raced off his line sharply and smothered the forward’s effort well.
55min: Virgil van Dijk handed the ball cheaply to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Andy Robertson was able to race back and clear up, and the central defender then raised a hand sheepishly.
54min: Fabinho earned a corner off Ainsley Maitland-Niles down the right flank. James Milner swung in the cross for Virgil van Dijk to attack, but both Mohamed Elneny and Rob Holding made it difficult for the towering Dutchman. His header was guided wide.
51min: Liverpool flooded forward at the other end straight after. Roberto Firmino attempted to replicate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener, but could only bend wide from 20 yards out with Emi Martinez scrambling across.
50min: Ainsley Maitland-Niles picked up the ball from distance and curled an effort comfortably wide of the Alisson’s far corner. That was another fine Arsenal move, which stretched from right to left.
47min: A long punt forward from Neco Williams appeared comfortable for David Luiz inside Arsenal’s final third, but for a split second it appeared the defender had misjudged the bounce. He was eventually able to hook the ball into the air and the danger was cleared.
46min: Welcome back to Wembley, where we’re underway for the second half! Let’s hope for more of the same.
No changes for either side.
Wow, what a stat! Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s five goals at Wembley have all come in the space of just 42 days. He has moved level with Alexis Sanchez.
5 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now Arsenal’s joint top scorer in games played at Wembley Stadium (5, level with Alexis Sanchez). Aubameyang’s five goals at the ground have come in the space of 42 days. Crucial. #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/cvWCL1FidE
That’s the whistle. Arsenal enter the break leading by a single goal thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sensational curling effort.
Liverpool started the brightest and have enjoyed some good moments of their own, but their opponents look lethal every time they flood forward at Wembley.
Plenty for both managers to ponder over during the next ten minutes or so.
44min: There have been plenty of good crosses in this game, and another has just been wasted. It was Bukayo Saka who rolled a dangerous ball across the face of the six-yard box, but Eddie Nketiah didn’t gamble at the front post.
43min: Kieran Tierney’s effort deflected off Joe Gomez after Arsenal confidently stroked the ball around on the left-hand side. Bukayo Saka’s resultant corner was poor, however, and Liverpool cleared.
40min: Arsenal are looking accomplished at playing their way from the back under pressure, just as they did during their run to winning the FA Cup final.
But it’s Liverpool who are threatening as we edge towards the break. A flurry of crosses were hoisted into the box, but Mikel Arteta’s men have been able to repel the danger every time so far.
38min: It’s nowhere near panic stations for Liverpool yet, but Joe Gomez has just opted to absolutely hammer an effort from distance off target. That was certainly ambitious from the central defender.
36min: James Milner teed up Andy Robertson to bend in another inviting cross, but Mohamed Salah was just unable to stretch far enough to make contact at the far post.
34min: Eddie Nketiah once again found himself in a dangerous position inside the Liverpool penalty area, but Virgil van Dijk was able to capitalise on a split second’s hesitation from the youngster to bring an end to the danger.
33min: Sadio Mane picked up the ball on the half turn and picked out Roberto Firmino in front of him inside the box. Firmino flicked the ball across to Andy Robertson with a cheeky back heel, but no one for Liverpool were able to divert in the incisive delivery that followed.
30min: Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah combined again down the left-hand side. The striker then sharply dropped his shoulder and rifled comfortably off target.
It is definitely Arsenal who are threatening the most to score the next goal in this one.
28min: It was a truly touching celebration from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his opener. He paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman with his iconic Black Panther celebration.
The Arsenal talisman has also just scampered back into his own territory to help win the ball back, which is sure to delight fans even more.
24min: Granit Xhaka won back possession in the centre of midfield, but play then broke down again. Both teams are looking up for this one so far, despite their shorter than usual breaks.
22min: Both Neco Williams and James Milner tried their luck from the edge of the box, but their efforts were blocked by Arsenal. This has turned into an enthralling end-to-end encounter now, but it’s Arsenal who still lead through that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stunner.
18min: Joe Gomez saw the ball stolen from him by Eddie Nketiah in the centre circle. Bukayo Saka was then released down the flank and cut back for Nketiah, who let loose a powerful side-footed effort which looked destined for the bottom right corner. Alisson had other ideas, however, and palmed clear.
What a finish! Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has broken the deadlock at Wembley! The Arsenal skipper took on Neco Williams down the left and curled a magnificent effort across Alisson and into the far corner.
12min: James Milner wastes a good chance. Neco Williams hosted in a good delivery, but the veteran was unable to guide his header on target.
10min: Mikel Arteta has been urging on his team from the sidelines, and Arsenal are now attempting to get more of a foothold in possession. They’ve been a little too one-dimensional in these early stages.
7min: Liverpool were awarded a clumsy free kick, which Andy Robertson curled in. It was Virgil van Dijk who diverted the ball across Emi Martinez and into the bottom corner, but the big defender was aware his burst forward came too early. VAR then double checked the decision. No goal.
5min: A gorgeous floated ball from Andy Robertson almost fell to the feet of Mohamed Salah, but Kieran Tierney’s outstretched leg was enough to prevent any attempts on goal. Emi Martinez, who starts today ahead of Bernd Leno, was forced to backpedal just to be sure.
3min: It’s all Liverpool at the moment. Sadio Mane was involved again and attempted to combine with Andy Robertson on the left. Rob Holding is able to clear the danger.
1min: Sadio Mane immediately attempted to take on Hector Bellerin down the Arsenal right flank, but the wing back stood his ground well and then won a free-kick after a slight shove.
We’ve just heard the National Anthem ring around a very damp and eerily empty Wembley, and now we’re underway!
Here we go for the first trophy up for grabs in this new season… but who will come out on top?
Arsenal XI: Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang
Substitutes: Leno, Saliba, Cedric, Nelson, Willock, Kolasinac, Smith-Rowe, John-Jules, Olayinka
Liverpool XI: Alisson, Williams, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Substitutes: Keita, Adrian, Grujic, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Brewster, Elliott, Koumetio
Both teams have geared up on that hallowed Wembley turf with Jurgen Klopp keeping a close eye on everything as usual!
There’s silverware as stake and i’m sure every player will want to get their hands on that trophy this evening.
We’re just ten minutes away from kick off now.
The tight turnaround between seasons may have bothered some managers, but Jurgen Klopp seems surprisingly at ease. The Liverpool boss is also confident in the fitness of his players for today.
Speaking to BT Sport, he said: ‘I would say we are ready. We have enjoyed training so far. Yes, the break was not too long, but it was absolutely OK. The boys look good. We are as fit as we can be.’
Eight of the Arsenal team named today also started in the FA Cup final just four weeks ago. Mikel Arteta will be hoping for similar celebrations at the full-time whistle.
Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette have missed out entirely this time round.
This will be the fourth time these two clubs have contested the shield.
Liverpool won in 1979 and 1989 but Arsenal won 1-0 in 2002.
‘He’s a big talent. He has a lot to learn. He’s a wonderful kid, a wonderful player and now he has to get used to these games.’
Talks continue over a new deal but this must be a good sign for Arsenal fans.
Captain Auba 😎
🔜 #CommunityShield | #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/azr2MJtG4T
Arsenal to win: 4/1
Draw after 90 mins: 7/2
Liverpool to win: 5/7
* courtesy of Betfair Exchange
Alisson, Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Adrian, Keita, Grujic, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Brewster, Elliott, Koumetio.
📋 Today’s #CommunityShield team news… #ARSLIV
Martinez; Bellerín, David Luiz, Holding, Tierney; Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang.
Subs: Leno, Cedric, Saliba, Kolasinac, Olayinka, Willock, Nelson, Smith Rowe, John-Jules.
📋 Team news bang on time! ⏰
🏆 Here’s how we line up for today’s game…
🔜 #CommunityShield | #ARSLIV
🏟👌#CommunityShield | #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/GVDqZQmEfc
𝟮𝟴 𝗱𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿…
We’re back in our dressing room at @WembleyStadium 🏟#CommunityShield | #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/3oLH67YUW5
Asked if Willian will play at Wembley, Arteta said: ‘I don’t know.
‘We’ll make the decision tomorrow on who is going to play and who is going to be involved, but for sure they’re going to see our signings playing a lot of minutes this season.
‘We’ve had two training sessions so you can imagine that this game comes straight in the middle of our mini pre-season, but as well we haven’t had much time to lose a lot of the condition.
‘Obviously it’s not an ideal moment to play in this final but the players are motivated. Obviously it’s another opportunity to win a trophy and we will go for it.’
And welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of the Community Shield showdown between Arsenal and Liverpool.
The clash between the FA Cup winners and Premier League champions marks the start of the new season.
Teamsn news expected at 15.30pm with kick-off at Wembley at 16.30pm.