Arsenal vs Liverpool
| Saturday, August 29th |
Community Shield | Wembley
4:30PM BST / 11:30AM EST
Five weeks after they wrapped up their Premier League winning season, and a week after the Champions League final took place, Liverpool are back in competitive action, ahead of what looks set to be the most intensely jam-packed 257 days of football in living memory.
While most fans recognise the Community Shield as little more than a glorified friendly match — and the empty stands at Wembley will do little to dispel that outlook — it is a contest they have only won twice in the past 30 years, and having lost on penalties to Manchester City last season, is certainly an early opportunity for Jordan Henderson to keep his tappy feet warm.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal did not produce noticeably better results than the team managed by his predecessor last season, but they certainly looked different, and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing a similar role to Mohamed Salah’s at Liverpool, as a central striker starting out wide, they were able to best the champions at the Emirates in July, albeit after being gifted two goals and generating only a single shot not directly from opposition errors.
Dani Ceballos has returned to Real Madrid, leaving the Gunners with a creative hole in central midfield, while new signing William Saliba could be set to start among injury troubles at the heart of the Arsenal defense.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Williams, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Mané, Firmino, Salah
At Liverpool’s end, there will — as would be expected with such a short off-season — be absences. Trent Alexander-Arnold stayed home while the squad went to Austria for their training camp and even if he were fit to play, would not have had any match training, so Neco Williams looks set to feature at right-back.
Joël Matip is reportedly closing in on full fitness following his ankle injury, but is not deemed ready to play quite yet, while Virgil van Dijk has recovered from his facial laceration suffered against Salzburg, and looks set to start next to Joe Gomez in defense.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson is getting closer to full participation in training, but is unlikely to be ready for match action quite yet, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains unavailable, so Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keita will be the probable starters for tomorrow’s affair, with Curtis Jones a dark horse contender.
Up top, the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have all played in pre-season and should be ready to go, while impressive cameos from Takumi Minamino and Rhian Brewster will likely be enough to see both feature off the bench, if not from the start. Divock Origi’s persistent absence continues to mystify.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We prepare for a whole season, one of the most intense we’ll ever experience in our lives because of the amount of games, the time we have for that and all these kinds of things. It’s not perfect but it’s as perfect as it can be. We will try everything to win the game, that’s how it is. Arsenal will probably do the same..”
Mikel Arteta: “[on beating Liverpool in July] I think it gave us a big platform of confidence and belief that we could challenge and play against the top teams at that level as well and beat them.”
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant referees: Mark Scholes, Marc Perry
Fourth official: Andrew Madley
VAR: David Coote, Dan Cook
Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.