Arsenal beat Manchester City 4-1 in a penalty shootout to win the Community Shield on Sunday and strike the first blow in this season’s rivalry between the two clubs.
Fabio Vieira scored the winning spot-kick after Arsenal scored a late equaliser in stoppage-time to earn a 1-1 draw with the Premier League champions and take the game at London’s Wembley Stadium into a shootout.
Community Shield matches often have a ‘friendly’ feel but with cynical fouls and crunching tackles in the London sunshine, there was no shortage of intensity – spilling over perhaps from last season’s title race in which City emerged victorious.
“For us, it’s a statement. It’s a marker to know we can go and beat Man City in a big game when it matters,” Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale told ITV.
“I’m not sure what it’ll be like this season. But that mental block is gone. We’re ready to push on now.”
While City had the bulk of the possession in the first half, Arsenal had the better chances, with big close-season signing Kai Havertz twice spurning opportunities to bag a debut goal as he had two efforts saved by Stefan Ortega
Pep Guardiola’s side showed more intent after the break and John Stones had a header saved early in the second half.
Striker Erling Haaland, who contributed a remarkable 52 goals to City’s treble-winning campaign last season, had an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon, failing to get a shot on target before being replaced by Cole Palmer.
It was substitute Palmer who broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, unleashing a curling effort from the edge of the box which left Ramsdale beaten.
Ramsdale was called into action twice in quick succession minutes later, denying Phil Foden and Rodri with crucial saves to keep the deficit to one goal.
Eight minutes of added time were then stretched to 13 after a clash of heads between Kyle Walker and Thomas Partey left both players needing their heads bandaged, with Arsenal digging deep to level via a deflected Leandro Trossard goal in the 101st minute.
In the ensuing shootout, City’s Kevin de Bruyne blasted his effort against the crossbar and Ramsdale saved a tame Rodri attempt, before Vieira clinched Arsenal’s 17th win in the season’s curtain-raiser, moving them into second place behind Manchester United in the all-time tally.
The win extended City’s run of defeats in Community Shield matches, following losses to Liverpool last season and Leicester City in 2021.
“We have to pick ourselves up and go again,” City goalscorer Palmer told ITV.
“When I got the ball Pep told me to be myself. I cut in and saw the far corner. Thankfully it went in.
“Hopefully we can win the treble again but it will be a difficult ask. The lads are sharp in training.”