Thursday, December 14, 2017

Kickoff time! *

Wenger happy; Conte, Rafa among uneasy managers

DIFFERING CIRCUMSTANCES: Chelsea's head coach Antonio Conte, left, and Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger display contrasting moods during last Saturday's FA Community Shield match at Wembley Stadium, London. Arsenal won in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw. –Photo: AFP

ARSENE WENGER was understandably much happier after last Sunday's Charity Shield match as the Gunners won their first silverware of the season. Wenger is a clever operator and he never joined in the summer spending frenzy of Manchester City and United, but his two new recruits performed very well indeed. Lacazette showed that he is a good buy and can perform well in the Premier League and he said after the match that he feels comfortable playing in the UK.

Following Per Mertesacker's nasty injury, sustaining a cut above his eye (Wenger said he should be fit for the Gunners's opening game against Leicester at the Emirates), his replacement Sead Kolasinac came on to control the right area of the pitch and score Arsenal's equaliser. Kolasinac cost nothing, as he came on a free transfer from German club Schalke.

Danny Welbeck was excellent for Arsenal and showed why Chelsea still need defender Virgil van Dijk from Southampton. The Blues' Nemanja Matic—a stronghold in defence—has gone and Chelsea looked lightweight around the centre of the field. Hazard is still injured and Diego Costa is totally out of favour. New Chelsea signing Antonio Rudiger looked out of his depth.


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