The summer has flown by and we are now just three weeks away from the curtain raiser of the 2017/18 season: the Community Shield. Premiership champions Chelsea will face Arsenal in a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final, which Arsene Wenger’s side won 2-1. There will be a few new faces on show, but largely the same players will be pitting their wits against one another, so it offers an intriguing opportunity to see how two of the country’s best teams are shaping up for the new campaign.
Chelsea are the favourites but you can still get strong odds on the Premiership champions, who are 21/20 with Sportingbet and even money with Bet365, Ladbrokes and various other bookmakers. So far it has been a quiet summer for the west Londoners as there have been no big money arrivals, but Antonio Conte has been promised £200 million to make a splash in the transfer market and there is still time for him to bolster his squad.
Arsenal are the outsiders here, as long as 5/2 with Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Betfred. That looks good value right about now when you examine recent historical trends. The FA Cup holders have won the Community Shield in each of the last three seasons, and twice it was the Gunners. In 2014 they beat Premiership champions Man City 3-0, and went on to win the FA Cup again that season. In the 2015 Community Shield they faced Premiership champions Chelsea and won 1-0. Last year FA Cup holders Man Utd beat league champions Leicester City 2-1. History is therefore on Arsenal’s side in this game.
The 5/2 looks a good bet on Arsenal as they comprehensively outplayed Chelsea in the cup final a couple of months ago. It finished 2-1 but the scoreline could have been far heavier as Chelsea looked sluggish and lacking in motivation following their exertions in holding off the challenge of Tottenham Hotspur in the league. They will have had the summer to recuperate, but in recent years the champions have started the season in a lethargic fashion, as Community Shield results have illustrated, and there is no guarantee Conte’s men will have shaken off their fug in time for this game.
Arsenal will probably the more motivated of the two teams. The Community Shield is not a proper trophy, but winning it provides a nice morale boost going into the new season and Arsenal have a lot more to prove than Chelsea after finishing fifth last season and failing to qualify for the Champions League. They have signed Alexandre Lacazette well in time for the new season and this will be a good chance for the Frenchman to strut his stuff on the big stage.
At such enticing odds, most of the action will go on Arsenal, who also contest the first Premiership match of the season against Leicester five days later. That Community Shield game should ensure they are a little sharper and more match fit than the Foxes, who they meet on Friday, August 11, before the bulk of fixtures takes place on the Saturday. Arsenal are 2/5 to win it, which is not an amazing set of odds but looks a good option for your first accumulator bet of the season. For more value, Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals is even money with Bet Stars, which looks good as these are two attacking sides that leave plenty of gaps at the back, and recent head to heads have seen plenty of goals. Chelsea play the next day and they have a gentle start to the season at home to Burnley, a side that is poor on the road. Chelsea -1.5 Asian handicap is 4/6 with Paddy Power.