And we begin again. Four weeks after beating Chelsea to win the FA Cup, Arsenal are back in action against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield, kicking off the 2020-2021 season. The Gunners and the Reds share the Community Shield wins record with 15 each. Tomorrow will be the fourth time the two clubs have met in this particular fixture. Liverpool won in 1979 and 1989; Arsenal won in 2002.
It’s tough to say how Mikel Arteta will treat tomorrow’s match. My guess is that he’ll view it as more of a preseason friendly than a match in which to go all-out for the win. A few players are in mandatory quarantine after returning from holiday. Arteta will want to get a look at Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, and probably a few other guys to get a better idea of where they’ll fit into the picture for the season. I’m expecting a mixed lineup and full sub usage from the Arsenal boss.
There aren’t any new injuries for Arsenal, but since it’s been a while, I’ll remind you of who is in the training room to start the season. Gabriel Martinelli had surgery to repair a knee injury and isn’t expected back until December, at the earliest. He revealed that last week he was able to put weight on his leg / walk on it for the first time since his injury. Shkodran Mustafi tore his hamstring off the bone and needed surgery to repair it. He is expected back in training in October. Pablo Mari needed surgery to repair an ankle ligament injury and should return to full training in September. Calum Chambers is continuing to rehab from a torn ACL and is expected back around the end of the year. Bernd Leno is fit and available from the knee injury that forced him to miss most of the restart.
For Jurgen Klopp’s men, Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Xherdan Shaqiri, Harry Wilson, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all out. Trent Alexander-Arnold faces a late fitness test to determine his availability. Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a nasty cut above his right eye in a friendly last week, should be good to go.
We laugh about the Community Shield (and the Carabao Cup), but I wouldn’t mind changing TSF’s twitter bio from “The official @SBNation home of the 15-time Community Shield Champions.”
WHO: Arsenal vs. Liverpool
WHERE: Wembley Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, August 29th 8:30 AM PT | 11:30 AM ET | 4:30 PM BT
US TV: Streaming on ESPN+.
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