07 August 2014

Does the Community Shield matter? Against Man City, yes. Yes, it does.

Sure, the Community Shield doesn't offer the same thrill or prestige of winning the Prem, FA Cup, or league cup, but there's something in it this year that makes the clahs a bit ediger than it might otherwise feel, at least to Gooners. The Shield itself may not signify much, but beating Man City, even in a glorified friendly, is not something to gloss over lightly. For Citeh, indeed, the nouveau riche who have gorged on a orgy of trophies in the last few years might pretend to sneer at the Community Shield, seeing it as just another bauble to be tossed atop the heap and forgotten. This is not to suggest that Gooners, by contrast, lust desperately after it; instead; besting the most-avaricious club in the Prem if not the world is probably the actual trophy we seek.

Chelsea usually serves as our nemesis, what with their proximity to us,  the Ashley Cole saga, Mourinho's unbearable demeanor, and the fresh addition of Fabregas to stoke emotions. It's easy to forget then it's actually City who have raided our squad far more often while snatching up transfer-targets from under our noses. Unlike Chelsea, they've been slapped on the wrist by UEFA for violating FFP. However, they don't inspire the same degrees of irrational scorn that Chelsea does, but this hardly means we shouldn't have a chip on our shoulders going in.

It's not just the financial flexing that Citeh are to be disliked, even hated. Lest ye forget, it was they who inflicted the first of three thumpings from our rivals last season (abetted, perhaps, by a few dodgy offsides calls) before taking our lumps against Chelsea and Liverpool. There's a bit of bad blood to this, blunted only a little by the relatively low stakes. Along those lines, we'll go in without Ozil, Mertesacker, or Podolski, while City go in without Aguero, Demichelis, or Zabaleta. Does this mean that our additions to this point (Alexis, Debuchy, and Chambers) trump theirs (Sagna, Reges, and Lampard)? Perhaps. Squad-selection aside, it may come down to who wants it more, who sees the deeper symbolism.

At one end, Man City have amassed silverware at an astounding rate, with five trophies in the last three years. At the other, Arsenal can only claim last season's FA Cup in the last nine. This might suggest that City could adopt a more-casual attitude the outing, which suits me just fine. Should we lose, no one will take much note of it. Should we win, we take a bit of confidence into the Prem season, one that starts with a bang, including a visit from City, a North London Derby, and a few others besides. Winning the Community Shield may not matter as much on its face as it does for momentum, then. Beyond that, the matches start to fly fast and furious, with a visit from Crystal Palace the following Sunday and then a mid-week Champions League play-off against an opponent to be decided in the Friday draw. It's been a long summer. Sunday will tell us a little about how worth-it it has been.

In the end, I see our desire and our reinforcements trumpting City to the tune of a 3-2 victory. I won't go so far as to specify our scorers. As they say, the devil is in the details.