Arsenal kickstarted their 2020-21 campaign with silverware, the FA Cup holders beating Premier League champions Liverpool on penalties in the Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday afternoon. For the first time since 1989, the two sides met at the home of the England national team and it was Arsenal who came out on top after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes, winning 5-4 on penalties with only Liverpool substitute Rhian Brewster missing from 12 yards.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his fifth goal in his last three appearances at Wembley as he opened the scoring inside 12 minutes, a delightful right-footed finish finding the far corner.
And Arsenal were the team on top in the first half, defending well against Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah and also threatening when they broke forward with Bukayo Saka particularly dangerous.
Eddie Nketiah forced a save from Alisson before firing another over the bar while at the other end, Andy Robertson whipped in some menacing crosses that his Liverpool team-mates couldn’t get on the end of.
In the second half, Liverpool dominated possession but Arsenal appeared largely comfortable, though Emiliano Martinez had to come off his line to thwart the on-running Mane.
That was until substitute Takumi Minamino scored an equaliser, firing low past Martinez after the ball dropped fortuitously to the Japan attacker.
Arsenal, having only been back in pre-season training a matter of days after their summer break, appeared to tire in the final minutes but held out to take the game to spot-kicks, which they won 5-4 as they scored all five of their spot-kicks.
And Arteta and co. clinched their second trophy this month with a 15th outright Community Shield win and their fourth since 2014. But how did the Londoners perform? Express Sport rates and slates the Gunners’ display.
Arsenal player ratings vs Liverpool – Community Shield
Emiliano Martinez – 7
Started over the fit-again Bernd Leno in a big call from Arteta and rewarded his boss with a solid display, responding well to his first test when Mane burst beyond Holding in the second half and then on hand once again to deny the winger at close range late on. Generally good distribution bar one chipped pass out of play in the first half. In the shoot-out,
Hector Bellerin – 7
Helped start the move that led to Aubameyang’s opener with a lovely lofted ball down to Saka on the right-hand side. One brilliant first-half burst from wing-back and defended capably too. Subbed.
David Luiz – 5
One unnecessary challenge on Mane gave away a cheap free-kick in the first half which Virgil van Dijk scored from, though he was rightly ruled offside. Not one of his finest displays, with some poor passes, although there were no glaring errors and you could probably attribute his sloppy afternoon to rust. Lovely top-corner penalty.
Rob Holding – 6
Kept busy by the lively Mane and fared well in the first half, though he was bettered by the Senegalese’s pace before the hour mark. Typically strong in the air. A decent outing if this is his final performance before joining Newcastle on a season-long loan.
Kieran Tierney – 7
Good positioning to intercept an early Andy Robertson cross to Mohamed Salah, although his touch gave Emiliano Martinez work to do. Clever run for the Aubameyang goal and defensively astute although his offensive deliveries were sometimes off. On hand to flick clear when Van Dijk loitered at the back post at a free-kick. Felt his calf with 15 minutes to go and subbed soon after.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8
Utilised in an interesting role that saw him constantly switch between left wing-back and central midfield positions and produced an energetic display. Might’ve shot when he tried to feed Nketiah early on but very adept defensively. Brilliant work against Mane in the second half when Roberto Firmino looked to feed the winger into the box, matching his opponent for pace and clearing the danger. Topped his showing off with a cool spot-kick.
Mohamed Elneny – 6
A neat display from the Egyptian, who started his second straight game after playing from the off against MK Dons earlier in the week. Blocked a James Milner shot in the first half and put himself in the right places defensively to help thwart Liverpool. Good work with the ball too.
Granit Xhaka – 6
Like Elneny, tidy from the Swiss, with a similar performance to that which Arsenal fans have become accustomed to under Arteta. Does plenty of dirty work and helps the Gunners keep their shape defensively.
Bukayo Saka – 8
Central to all of Arsenal’s attacks as he floated centrally on occasions. Brilliant ball over to Aubameyang in space for the first goal to clinch yet another assist and another excellent low pass into Nketiah to test Alisson soon after, setting up the striker for another effort before the half-hour mark with another clever pass. Forced a corner when his right-footed effort was deflected wide by Gini Wijnaldum on 68 minutes but was otherwise less involved after the interval. Subbed.
Eddie Nketiah – 6
A decent low shot that forced a save from Alisson on 17 minutes after breaking into the box on the counter and drilled another over the box, again after being found by Saka. Poor touch saw a promising attack fall apart when he looked to spin inside the box. On the end of a high boot from Naby Keita in the second half. Great work off the ball throughout, as to be expected from the academy graduate. Subbed.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7
The Arsenal captain just loves Wembley. Stunning finish to put Arsenal 1-0 up after being offered too much space by Neco Williams on the edge of the box, leaving Alisson helples with a curling finish into the far corner. Worked hard defensively too and towards the end of the second half continued to provide threat. Sealed Arsenal’s triumph by scoring the fifth penalty of the shootout.
Cedric Soares (on for Bellerin, min 59) – 6
Replaced Bellerin in the right-sided wing-back role. One clumsy foul on Minamino but otherwise fine defensively. Lovely cross set up fellow substitute Joe Willock at the end but he headed wide. Great penalty.
Joe Willock (on for Saka, min 82) – 6
Lively after his introduction but should’ve scored with a header late on but mistimed his jump and skewed his effort wide.
Reiss Nelson (on for Nketiah, min 82) – 6
Only saw the ball a few times before penalties. Excellent shoot-out penalty.
Sead Kolasinac (on for Tierney, min 83) – 6
Brought on for fresh legs at the back.