Premier League champions Liverpool and FA Cup holders Arsenal will be going head-to-head this weekend at the traditional Community Shield matchup at Wembley Stadium.
During the years, the match has gained the reputation of being a friendly game more than a competitive outing but it’s nevertheless a chance to pick up some silverware and go into the season on a high.
Both clubs have won the Community Shield trophy 15 times but the Merseyside Reds haven’t laid their hands on it since 2006 while Arsenal added to their tally three years ago when they overcame Chelsea in a penalty shootout.
There is some key news surrounding the clubs and before I get to my prediction, let’ see what can we expect from the 2020 Community Shield Match.
Arsenal put MK Dons to the sword in their only friendly since the conclusion of the 2019/2020 season and we can expect a lot of the players that starred in the win to feature in the Community Shield matchup.
Young duo Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah have both impressed with their appearances since the turn of the year. They were once again among the liveliest players on the pitch for the Gunners and combined for the team’s second goal.
More importantly, Arsenal’s newest defensive addition Willam Saliba finally made his debut for the club and looked solid alongside Cedric Soares and Rob Holding.
There was also a scoring return for forgotten man Mohamed Elneny who might well feature this weekend after a stable overall performance next to Granit Xhaka in midfield.
Talisman striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also given an outing and looked sharp for the 45 minutes he was on. Mikel Arteta is still waiting on his captain’s final decision but it looks like the forward is close to signing a new deal with the club which will be a big boost for the players and fans.
It is highly likely that new acquisition William will make his competitive debut after signing from Chelsea on a free earlier this month but players Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Callum Chambers, and Gabriel Martinelli remain on the sidelines.
Jurgen Klopp took his team to a short training camp in Austria where the Reds played two friendlies.
German side Stuttgart was easily brushed aside after first-half goals from Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita, and a superb effort from youngster Rhian Brewster in the 68th minute.
Brewster was at it again in the team’s second outing against RB Salzburg where he levelled the score with two great goals after his team went down to a couple of strikes from Patson Daka early on.
This has further cemented the young Englishman’s reputation as a clinical finisher and I do expect to see him in some capacity on Saturday.
It can be a big season for him, especially if he continues to impress and Klopp fails to bring in a top-quality striker to the fold.
There was a big worry surrounding Virgil van Dijk during the game against Salzburg but Klopp has confirmed that his towering defender is fit for selection and will most probably slot next to Joe Gomez in the starting lineup.
I expect Andrew Robertson to get the nod at left-back but we will possibly see new boy Kostas Tsimikas come on at some point as he had a couple of good performances in Austria and it is the perfect opportunity for him to get an early taste of English football.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not have a chance to play against his former team and he will be joined on the sidelines by Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip who are still nursing small injury problems.
However, it is expected that first-choice right back Trent Alexander-Arnold will be making an appearance after missing the trip to Austria.
My Prediction and Final Words
The game can definitely go either way. Both managers will be keen on getting their hands on a piece of silverware but I doubt they are going to risk their key pieces given the long season that awaits them.
It will be a great opportunity for a few youngsters like William Saliba and Rhian Brewster to stake a claim and I’m also curious to see how Arsenal’s new boy Willian will do.
Arteta’s choices at the back look very slim with no less than three central defenders out injured and this means that we’ll probably see Rob Holding playing alongside Saliba again.
Holding did not have the best of games against MK Dons and he will definitely be targeted by Liverpool’s forwards which might spell trouble for the Gunners.
Arsenal should be able to create chances with the creativity that Willian, Saka, and Aubameyang can provide but with van Dijk, Robertson, Gomez, and Trent Alexander-Arnold all expected to feature, I’m leaning towards Liverpool here.
A solid defense is the most important aspect in these early games and with Arsenal still searching for the right formula at the back, I expect they will be shakier than their opponents.
We’ll still need to wait a bit more for the start of the new Premier League season but in the meantime, the Community Shield is a good opportunity to get a glimpse of how two of the top teams are looking at the moment.
I expect the Merseyside Reds to edge this in the end on account of their better quality and chemistry at the back but I’m hoping Arsenal can put up a good fight with all the exciting offensive players they have at their disposal.