Proceeds from today’s match will be donated to the victims and families of the Grenfell Tower fire

Arsenal take on Chelsea in the FA Community Shield at Wembley this afternoon (2.00pm kick-off UK time).

The traditional curtain raiser to the English professional season brings together the FA Cup winners Arsenal against the Premier League Champions Chelsea.

It’s a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final, in which Arsenal beat Premier League champions Chelsea 2-1.

The fixture has a long history of raising money for a variety of charity and community sources.

Proceeds from today’s match will be donated to support all those so tragically affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

It is hoped to raise in the region of £1.25m for the victims.

Alongside the donation, the families of the victims and survivors will be invited as guests to the game along with all those emergency service personnel who performed their duties with such bravery.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: “With the rest of the nation, Arsenal Football Club was shocked by the incident at Grenfell Tower and our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

“The club stands side by side with Chelsea in reaching out to the community and expressing our support and solidarity for those who have lost friends and family, their homes and their sense of security in the wake of this tragic event.

“We also pay tribute to our city’s emergency services who showed immense courage and bravery. We play the FA Community Shield on Sunday 6 August for the victims and the heroes of this terrible tragedy.”

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck added: “It was with profound shock and sorrow we learnt of the tragedy that befell so many people in Kensington last week.

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives and our deepest sympathy goes out to anybody who may have suffered in any way due to the dreadful fire at Grenfell Tower.

“We believe it is appropriate and timely that the first major football match involving top-flight clubs to take place in our city since the tragedy will be dedicated in such a way to the victims and survivors, and to the enormous number of heroes of the rescue operation, especially given this occasion’s long history of being played for the benefit of the wider community and people in need of support.

“We at Chelsea Football Club hope this FA Community Shield match with Arsenal will provide such support once again.”

Head-to-Head

This will be the third Community Shield between Chelsea and Arsenal – with the Blues winning in 2005 and the Gunners in 2015.

Only Manchester United (21, 17 outright and four shared) and Liverpool (15, 10 outright and five shared) have won the Community Shield more times than Arsenal (14 – 13 outright and one shared).

This will be Chelsea’s 12th Community Shield appearance. Only Manchester United (30), Arsenal (22, including 2017) and Liverpool (21) have made more (Manchester United have played 31 Community Shield matches as the 1908 edition went to a replay).

Chelsea have won the Community Shield four times (all outright) – 1955, 2000, 2005 and 2009. Their victories in 1955 and 2005 came as league champions.

Chelsea have lost their last three Community Shield matches – in 2010 against Manchester United, in 2012 versus Manchester City and in 2015 against Arsenal.

Only Manchester United (nine) have been Community Shield runners-up more times than Chelsea and Arsenal (both seven).

The Managers

Arsene Wenger

Wenger finally signed a two-year contract extension in June. It concluded months of speculation on whether the Frenchmen’s 21 year tenure was coming to an end. Any thoughts that Wenger signing on for another two years would bring back stability were quickly expelled. The saga of players such as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entering the final year of their contracts has dogged the build up to the new. Wenger has stated consistently that star man Sanchez will not be allowed to leave this summer.

This is what Wenger had to say about today’s match.

“Today is a good opportunity to repeat the performance we had in a final.

“Two teams who will go for the first trophy of the season with power and a desire to be ready for the championship.

“So that plays a part of it as well. We can also give competition to players who will need it.”

Antonio Conte

Conte steered Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season. He hasn’t though been happy in the lead up to the new season. Despite so far spending £135m in the transfer window, Conte has been concerned the club have been slow in concluding their business and bringing in the players he wants. The saga with Diego Costa has still to be resolved.  Costa was told by Conte in May by text that he was  surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. The Spain international wants to return to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the La Liga’s sides ban on signing players in this transfer window has made it difficult to complete the deal – along with the fee that Chelsea are seeking.

This is what Conte had to say about today’s match.

“It was a pity to lose the FA Cup final against Arsenal after a really great season for us,’ he said. ‘Now there is another game, we know very well Arsenal are a strong team. We are expecting a difficult game and we want to start the season with a win.

“I think the friendlies have ended for us, this is an official game and the first trophy of the season. It’s an important game, for sure.

“Chelsea and Arsenal are not in the best form because we are in the first part of the season, but we want to play a really good game with high intensity and prepare for the start of the season.”

New Signings

Both sides are likely to give some of their new summer signings a run-out.

Arsenal

Bosnia and Herzegovina international Sead Kolasinac agreed to join the Gunners in June 2017 on a long-term contract.

He arrived from Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, where he made 94 league appearances for the German club, and a further 23 outings in the Champions League and Europa League during a six-year spell with the Gelsenkirchen club.

Alexandre Lacazette became Arsenal’s record signing when he joined from Lyon on a long-term contract in July 2017. The fee could rise to £52m. In the past four seasons Lacazette has scored 91 league goals. He scored 28 times in just 30 games in the 2016/17 season and averaged close to a goal every two games for Lyon, scoring 100 times in 203 league matches.

Chelsea

German International Antonio Rudiger joined Chelsea from Italian side Roma on 9 July 2017 for a fee of £30m. The 24-year-old defender has signed a five-year contract and been given the No.2 shirt.

Spanish International Alvaro Morata Chelsea’s became Chelsea’s record when he completed his £60m transfer from Real Madrid to the Blues on 21 July 2017.  The 24-year-old scored 20 goals in all competitions and winning to help Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League.

Goalkeeper Willy Caballero signed on a free transfer at the start of July following three years at Manchester City.

Team News

Arsenal

Laurent Koscielny missed the FA Cup final as part of three match suspension he picked up for being sent off in the final Premier League fixture of the season aganst Everton. He will though be available for selection as the Community Shield is officially classified as a friendly, so will serve the further two matches of his suspension in the Premier League  against Leicester City and Stoke City

Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi only returned to training this week after being involved in the Confederations Cup in Russia.  So today may come too early for them to be in the starting line up.

Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey haven’t taken part in all the full training sessions this week, but both should be available for selection.

Chelsea

Eden Hazard is out with an ankle injury.

Pedro could play wearing a mask to protect a facial injury he sustained in the pre-season friendly against Arsenal in Beijing in July.

As with Koscielny, Victor Moses will be available for selection as today’s match is officially classified as a friendly. He will instead serve his single match suspension for being sent off in the FA Cup final next weekend against Burnley.

Tiemoue Bakayoko completed his transfer from Monaco on 15 July 2017 and signed a 5 year contract. He will though miss today’s through injury.

Match Officials

Bobby Madley will referee today’s match.

He was the fourth official when the teams met in the FA Cup final in May.

Simon Bennett (Staffordshire FA) and Constantine Hatzidakis (Kent FA) will be Madley’s assistant referees.

Graham Scott (Berks & Bucks FA) has been appointed as the fourth official and Edward Smart (Birmingham FA) has been named reserve assistant referee.

Prediction

The match may go to penalties which would provide a chance to fathom out the ABBA format being trialed for penalty shoot-outs.

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