Arsenal won their 16th Community Shield by defeating Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time at Wembley on Saturday evening.
Arsenal broke the deadlock against the run of play through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored from outside the box in the 12th minute, with second-half substitute Takumi Minamino equalising for Liverpool in the 73rd minute.
The Gunners eventually prevailed 5-4 in the penalty shootout after Rhian Brewster missed his spot-kick for Liverpool.
On that note, here are the five things we learned from Arsenal’s Community Shield triumph.
#5 Ainsley Maitland-Niles impresses
Despite reports suggesting that Arsenal may sell Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mikel Arteta has been adamant in stating that the 23-year-old is a key part of his plans.
Maitland-Niles was excellent in the Community Shield, with the Arsenal academy graduate combining well with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left flank and was a handful for the Liverpool midfield to contain.
His intelligent diagonal runs allowed Aubameyang to advance into the box and attack the ball. He also made darting runs down the flank to provide space for Edward Nketiah and Aubameyang, who remained central.
Maitland-Niles also dropped down in defence to win the ball back for his side and was rightfully adjudged the Man of the Match.
#4 Mohammed Salah fails to make an impact
Liverpool utilised both flanks with unison. The Reds were blocked from going for the goal from the central midfield area and were forced to play from the wings, courtesy of a sturdy marking display by Mohamed Elneny in defensive midfield.
Mohammed Salah was heavily marked and failed to act as a goal-poacher. He rarely got any space to shoot or have a go at the goal from distance. Salah was rather lethargic and primarily played as a withdrawal winger down the right side.
With no support from Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were seen to be stranded on their own in the crowd of disciplined Arsenal defenders. The Egyptian had no attempt on goal and did not manage to complete a single dribble.
Jurgen Klopp must be worried by Salah’s underwhelming numbers in the Community Shield.
#3 Disciplined Arsenal defence frustrate Liverpool
Arsenal looked poised at the back from the very first minute. They sat back and soaked all the pressure Liverpool were throwing at them. It was clear from the beginning that Mikel Arteta planned to hit Liverpool against the run of play.
The Arsenal defence, spearheaded by the likes of David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, and Rob Holding, was extremely disciplined. The Gunners started with a three-man defence but were also seen to form a five-man back-line at times with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin dropping down.
Liverpool kept lobbing crosses from both flanks and the Arsenal defenders kept clearing them all. The defence was quick to make key outward passes through one-touch plays which allowed Arsenal to break on the counter.
#2 Liverpool lose the Community Shield on penalties second year running
Jurgen Klopp’s hunt for the Community Shield continued as Liverpool lost the tradition curtain-raiser of the English season on penalties for the second consecutive season. Liverpool went into the game as overwhelming favourites, despite Arsenal’s recent surge.
With a fairly better side on paper, Klopp’s Liverpool were expected to win the game. However, an underwhelming and uninspired display from the Reds stretched their wait for the Community Shield to 14 years.
Liverpool came close to winning the Community Shield last year as well but went down 5-4 on penalties to Manchester City after the game remain tied at 1-1 in regulation time.
However, the Reds won the Premier League at a canter last season and wouldn’t mind the defeat if they are again crowned the champions of England at the end of the campaign.
#1 Mikel Arteta is a resourceful manager
Mikel Arteta been one of the most resourceful managers in Europe ever since he took charge of Arsenal in December last year. His three-year tenure as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City has proved to be a game-changing experience for Arsenal in the recent few months.
Arteta showed signs of promise after his 2-0 win over Manchester United in the Premier League in January. Arteta’s Arsenal have now defeated Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool (twice) and have won two trophies – the FA Cup and the Community Shield – in the span of a month.
Arsenal have now won 16 of their last 28 matches, losing just six times. These numbers are quite impressive for a side who have underperformed over the last few years.
Arsenal are in a transitional stage and Arteta has punched way above his weight with the limited resources he has in his disposal.