Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and star signing Alvaro Morata were the Chelsea fall guys as Arsenal won the Community Shield 4-1 on penalties at Wembley on Sunday.
Goals from Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Arsenal new boy Sead Kolasinac sent the game to a shootout and with both Courtois and Morata limply squandering their spot-kicks, Arsenal won the trophy for the third time in four years.
Courtois blazed his penalty over the bar before substitute Morata, a £58 million capture from Real Madrid, shot wide, allowing Olivier Giroud to seal victory for Arsenal.
“I’m very happy because we won a trophy we wanted to win and because the quality of the game was very good,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“Even when we were 1-0 down, we didn’t panic, kept control of our game and came back. The performance is in continuity of what we did at the end of last season.”
Arsenal, embarking upon their first season without Champions League football since 1997, and Wenger said it will allow the London club to focus their attention this season on winning the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
The Frenchman noted in May that the two most recent league champions – Chelsea and Leicester City – did not play European football during their title-winning campaigns.
“For us it is a good opportunity to focus completely on the Premier League,” Wenger told British media.
“I would say that the Premier League has, in my opinion, taken over from the Champions League interest-wise.
Arsenal’s fifth-placed finish last season meant they missed out on the Champions League for the first time in 20 years and they will play in the less prestigious Europa League instead.
“Last year, Chelsea did not play in the European Cup and, certainly, they were a bit more consistent in the Premier League,” Wenger added.
“Will they make as many points? I don’t know. But they will fight certainly for the championship again.