Key Battles that could decide Arsenal's Community Shield Vs Chelsea
Today's Community Shield clash between Arsenal and Chelsea will mark the start of the English top flight season and give an indicator as to how both teams may fare in the first few weeks.
While a victory may mean more for the Gunners, the Blues will be expected to win after lifting the Premier League title last year, and here's three battles that could go a long way to deciding how the game pans out.
1. Per Mertesacker Vs Batshuayi
Chelsea played a full strength team in their final pre-season game against Inter Milan and after the Belgian started at the tip of a 3-4-3, it looks like Batshuayi will get a rare start for the Blues.
Despite only making 2 appearances last season, Per Mertesacker completed 90 minutes in the Emirates Cup and this alongside his role as club captain means that it is expected that the German will start alongside Laurent Koscielny on Sunday.
Eden Hazard's absence means there will be more pressure on the Chelsea frontline to succeed and if Batshuayi can get the early advantage over the slow centre-back, then it could be a long 90 minutes for Arsenal fans.
2. Lacazette Vs Gary Cahill
Despite being subbed off in Arsenal's 2-1 Emirates Cup loss to Sevilla, manager Arsene Wenger assured fans that Lacazette's withdrawal was not due to injury and the Frenchman is expected to start on Sunday.
Antonio Conté's decision to loan out Kurt Zouma raised an eyebrow but perhaps shows the faith he has in the Chelsea captain.
Lacazette's pace means that he thrives playing off the shoulder of the opposition defence and his energy will prove a test for Cahill and his teammates. The absence of Sanchez means that the Blues will be in control if the Frenchman can be nullified early on.
3. Kante Vs Mesut Ozil
Putting N'Golo Kanté in a key clash is perhaps a bit of a cliché, but the absence of Alex Sanchez means that there will be a lot of pressure on Ozil to architect chances for the Arsenal side.
This battle could also prove to be a personal one for the German as he was criticised at times for an underwhelming season last time out.
If Ozil can pull of a man-of-the-match performance then not only will an Arsenal victory be likely, but it may spark the former Madrid playmaker into another successful season for the Gunners. On the flip side, if Kanté performs like he usually does then we could see the Blues lifting yet another piece of silverware.