Wenger calls for united front as Arsenal makes Shield statement

AFP
Arsene Wenger pleaded with Arsenal fans to stay united after his side made a statement of intent with their Community Shield victory over Chelsea on Sunday.
AFP
Reuters

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata misses a penalty against Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech during the penalty shootout of their FA Community Shield match at Wembley in London on August 6, 2017. Arsenal won 4-1.

Arsene Wenger pleaded with Arsenal fans to stay united after his side made a statement of intent with its FA Community Shield victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

After spending much of last season under fire from supporters frustrated by Arsenal's travails, Gunners boss Wenger hopes the new campaign is a far less turbulent affair.

Despite winning the FA Cup at the end of last term, Wenger's decision to sign a new contract proved a polarizing move among the Arsenal faithful, who remain angered by their team's failure to qualify for this season's UEFA Champions League.

Wenger has already been subjected to a fan invading the pitch in an attempt to abuse him during a preseason friendly and, against that troubled backdrop, the Frenchman was relieved to start the new season with a morale-boosting win over English Premier League champion Chelsea at Wembley.

A 4-1 penalty shootout victory rewarded Arsenal for an encouraging display in the 1-1 draw and Wenger was quick to call for unity in the stands ahead of Friday's EPL opener against Leicester City.

"I would like they stand behind the team as we might go through some very good periods and some not so good periods," he said.

"We want to be united and together throughout the season.

"Every game is a battle in the Premier League, like today. It is a dream to make the fans happy, a difficult dream but we try hard."

Wenger has now won the Community Shield seven times, but it is seven years since Manchester United became the last winner of the prestigious friendly to go on to lift the EPL trophy.

After a strong first half, Arsenal fell behind to a Victor Moses goal in the 46th minute.

But Chelsea had Pedro sent off in the closing stages and Arsenal equalized through new signing Sead Kolasinac's 82nd-minute header.

"Well, I don't know if it was a sending off or not but at that moment we were dominating," Wenger said.

"We had some difficult moments at the start of the second half but after that we dominated. We always looked dangerous."

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was unhappy with referee Bobby Madley after seeing his side reduced to 10 men against Arsenal at Wembley yet again.

Moses was sent off for diving in the Blues' FA Cup final loss to the Gunners in May and Pedro saw red for a lunge on Mohamed Elneny.

"This is the second game, after the FA Cup, that we finish with 10 men," Conte fumed.

"I didn't see the situation. For me for this reason it is very difficult to say something about this decision.

"I heard there was clearly a penalty but I did not see. We are working, we are trying to do our best.

"We had a tough preseason, between the six days until we start the league it is important to be focused on the next game."


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