Wenger eyes strong start to season after Community Shield win

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Highlights: Arsenal beat Chelsea after penalty shootout

Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal can take confidence from their Community Shield win over Chelsea and avoid another bad start to their Premier League season against Leicester on Friday.

The Gunners have lost on the opening day in three of the last four seasons.

They face Leicester at Emirates Stadium on the back of a penalty shootout win after a niggly 1-1 draw at Wembley.

“We had the intensity in the games in our preparation that is needed to be ready,” said Wenger.

“Let’s go into the Premier League with the same discipline, the same spirit and see where we can go.”

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Arsenal’s shootout victory means the FA Cup winning side has now won the last four editions of the Community Shield, with the Gunners responsible for three of those.

Wenger’s future overshadowed much of last season for Arsenal, but after finally signing a new two-year contract in May it is now the future of two of his key players that dominates the thoughts of many at the club.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have both started the final season of their current contracts and both missed out on the matchday squad at Wembley, though they were present to join the celebrations on the pitch after Olivier Giroud’s winning penalty.

And Wenger is confident that he can keep the camp happy and focused in the coming season.

“I cannot stop all the speculation but Sanchez is focused. For the 273rd time, yes [he will stay after 31 August],” Wenger said.

“We are here a lot today because of players like Sanchez and Ozil so I wanted them to be part of it.

“It’s down to us to put a positive atmosphere around the team. A lot was created by my own situation. Maybe I made a mistake. Overall I believe that it’s down to us. The trend has always to come from the team.”

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Sanchez did not play as he recovers from illness but was at the game and posted this photo on Instagram along with the caption: “Community Shield champions again”

Wide open title race?

Thirteen of the 25 winners of the Premier League since 1992 have been teams who started the same season by contesting the Community Shield.

However, only seven winners of the trophy have gone on to win the title, with Manchester United the last to do so in the 2010-11 season.

Both Wenger and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte expect their respective sides to be in for a fight to win the Premier League this season.

“We have maybe seven or eight teams who say they can win the Premier League,” said Wenger. “That makes it very interesting.”

Conte added: “There are six teams in England that can fight for the title. Don’t forget today Arsenal didn’t play with many players, strong players.”

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Manchester United were the last team to win the Community Shield and then go on to win the Premier League in the same season – seven years ago.

Key decisions costly for Conte

Conte was frustrated by the decisions by referee Bobby Madley to book Willian for diving in the penalty area in the first half and send off Pedro with 10 minutes to go.

The champions had taken the lead through Victor Moses at the start of the second half but conceded moments after Pedro’s dismissal when Sead Kolasinac headed in Granit Xhaka’s free-kick.

“A lot of people told me the Willian penalty was clear,” Conte said.

“For sure there is a bit of frustration, but you know very well we have to respect referees decisions. But sometimes these decisions make you a bit angry.

“Last season is now a story. Now there is another season and we must look at our present and start another season. Last season was great, great for my players. myself and the club but now there is another history to write.”

Analysis – Chelsea are bare

Chelsea have signed Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willy Caballero and Antonio Rudiger this summer but Conte has said he would like to strengthen further before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The Blues’ lack of strength in depth was perhaps evident as four of the seven Chelsea substitutes on Sunday were academy players.

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New signings Willy Caballero, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata were named on bench alongside four academy players who had one Premier League substitute appearance between them. Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko were injured for the game.

“Chelsea had a strong side out but they are bare,” said former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton.

“They have big players to come back in but look at their bench today. To compete on two fronts it is lacking.

“Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko will come in but that’s about it. They need more and I don’t think Conte is happy.

“He wasn’t happy to see Nemanja Matic go to United, that much is clear.

“Tammy Abraham, Nathaniel Chalobah, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been allowed to leave, Nathan Ake to Bournemouth. Conte says that those players need to be more patient but I am surprised that some of them have been allowed out.

“Conte wants more quality and that’s not easy. You need numbers to compete on two fronts. Matic is a strange one, Conte’s reaction was clear. Does he have total control? It doesn’t seem that he does.”

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