When my phone rings it buzzes to the sound of Match of the Day. The only other sound that comes close to producing the same nicotine rush of nostalgia comes from the ice cream van.
Match of the Day is the dog’s bollocks.
This is why the Community Shield is so much more than a friendly: the FA Cup Winners versus the Premier League Champions. Nobody cares about that. It’s more than that. The Community Shield is the starting gun, the flare and the ready, steady go.
It is the sound of a new season.
We now have something to fill our time on a Saturday night.
It was a packed house, a beautiful day. 85,437 fans decked out in blue and red filled Wembley Stadium. It was as if nothing had changed. Chelsea fielded an unchanged side from last season. Diego Costa sitting this one out with a hamstring injury, Loic Remy starting up front with new signing Falcao starting on the bench.
There was one change for Arsenal. It was a significant one. Petr Cech is one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. How poignant that his first appearance of any note, in an Arsenal shirt, should come against his old club. Arsenal hasn’t had a keeper of this quality since David Seaman. It will make a difference. The spine already looks so much stronger.
The bookies favorites were Chelsea. Arsenal had not won against them in nine meetings, and Arsene Wenger had never beaten Jose Mourinho in a competitive match. That’s 14 attempts in a barren 11-year stretch. Wenger said it didn’t bother him. We know he was lying.
The only downer on the whole day was hearing that McDonalds would sponsor the Community Shield. That makes perfect sense. Why not team up with a fast food outlet that delivers heart attacks in a bag, perfect for the world of sport.
Cheeseburgers and Happy Meals aside it was Arsenal who were the fastest out of the traps – and boy are they fast. The pace they possess is frightening. Arsenal is being toted as potential challengers for the title this year. If only they had the punch to go along with that pace.
The first chance fell to Theo Walcott. The injury prone speedster started up front after recently signing a new four year contract. His near post header showing the world that he is as sprightly with his head as he is with his feet.
Then came the breakthrough. The ball was passed to that other speed freak, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he cut inside the right hand side of the box and smashed a left foot shot into the top corner of the net. 24-minutes played and the scoreboard sang a familiar tune: one-nil to the Arsenal.
Chelsea midfielder Ramirez headed over the bar from six yards when it was easier to score. Aaron Ramsey hit the side netting for the Gunners. The two teams went into the changing rooms for the half time interval with Arsenal well on top.
It was a different second half.
Jose Mourinho would later question whether Arsenal’s defensive attitude was ‘tactically brilliant’ or ‘parking the bus’. In truth, Chelsea pressed hard, and Arsenal defended well. It was a mix-bag of pressure and a young Arsenal team trying to protect what they had whilst also looking dangerous on the break.
Falcao replaced Remy. Giroud replaced Walcott. The Falcao signing is an interesting one. You don’t become a bad player after one season, and we must remember that was his recovery season after a serious knee injury. He still looked labored though. He still looked lost.
Giroud was different gravy. He could have put Arsenal three-up within five minutes of stepping on the pitch. Each year he gets better. It will be interesting to see how Wenger switches Giroud and Walcott this year.
It was a dour second half. Once again most of the clear cut chances went to Arsenal despite Chelsea dominating possession. There was a little flare up towards the end of the match. It was handbags at ten paces, but it told a tale. The Premiership was back.
At the end of the game Wenger and Mourinho refused to shake hands. The Special One would launch his medal into the crowd – into the wrong end.
“I think the best team lost.” Said Mourinho after the match.
I love it.
Football is back, and it’s like it’s never been away.