Three things we learned from Arsenal’s Community Shield win vs. Chelsea

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LONDON — On a glorious day at Wembley Stadium, London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal clashed in England’s capital for the Community Shield.

[ MORE: Wenger, Mou’s feud continues

Arsenal ran out 1-0 winners thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stunning strike in the first half, with Chelsea struggling to break down a stubborn Gunners outfit despite having more attempts at goal and more possession.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

Arsene Wenger secured his first win against Jose Mourinho at the 14 attempt, with the Gunners securing their second-straight Community Shield triumph and fourth-straight trophy in the past 12 months from a Wembley final.

[ VIDEO: Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stunner wins it ]

Here’s what we learned from the traditional curtain-raiser of the domestic season.

WENGER FINALLY OUT-MOURINHO’S, MOURINHO

Hanging out in the Wembley sunshine for the entirety of the game, Mourinho stood on the edge of his technical area with either his hands behind his back or folded as he sized up his team. For the first half, he was not impressed, as Chelsea labored and Arsenal had the cutting edge in the final-third. Eden Hazard was shackled by Hector Bellerin on the flank and then whenever he stepped inside, Francis Coquelin shut him down. After 14 attempts, Wenger finally had his first victory over Mourinho as a manager with the Frenchman going for tactics we saw him develop in the second half of last season.

In many ways, Wenger beat Mourinho at his own game. He deployed Coquelin as a true holding midfielder in the second half of last season to great success, as away from home the Gunners could stop the attacking threats of the opposition but still possessed enough quality to unlock the opposition. Arsenal’s naive nature has dissipated as Wenger can now grind out wins instead of playing “sexy football” for the sake of it. Wenger beat the master of disruption at his own game with late subs seeing the defensive duo of Gibbs and Arteta replace attacking Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil, as he’s finally figured out how to beat a Mourinho side. When you have a goalkeeper like ex-Chelsea stopper Petr Cech — playing against Chelsea for the first time since he left them after an 11-year spell where he won it all at Stamford Bridge — it always makes it easier to defend an early lead. Cech made a fine save from an Oscar free kick in the second half and his calming presence exuded confidence in Arsenal’s backline. He already looks like a superb signing for the Gunners.

CHELSEA’S STRIKER SHORTAGE STILL A WORRY

Starting up front for Chelsea on Sunday, Loic Remy was lost up top. The Frenchman played on the shoulder of Arsenal’s last defender but Chelsea just couldn’t find his lingering runs and he was replaced at half time with Radamel Falcao. With Diego Costa not included in the squad due to his reoccurring hamstring issues, the Blues look devoid up options in attack heading into the first week of the season. Mourinho has taken a chance on Falcao following his dismal loan spell at Manchester United last season, but after coming on at half time he looked considerably sharper than Remy and if Costa is missing for the start of the PL season, you’d expect Falcao to start in his place. With Costa’s fitness issues a concern, will Chelsea dip into the market to sign a new striker between now and the end of the summer transfer window on Sept. 1?

“[We have] three top strikers. If one is injured, we have two. No concerns, no protections,” Mourinho said in the build-up to this game. “It’s a position where we’re very strong. I’m not worried, match after match, and we have a fantastic group of strikers so no problem.”

Jose, are you sure?

CAZORLA WASTED ON THE WING; WALCOTT AN OPTION UP TOP

Eyebrows were raised when Santi Cazorla lined up on the left of midfield for Arsenal, as Coquelin was partnered by Aaron Ramsey in the center. After his heroic second half of last season in a deeper central role, Cazorla has become one of the first names on the teamsheet for Wenger. Playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation Cazorla, Chamberlain and Ozil interchanged in the three attacking midfield positions, but Cazorla wasn’t able to dictate the tempo of the game. Ramsey hasn’t hidden his desire to play in his preferred central role, but is the Welshman a better option than Cazorla alongside Coquelin? Then of course, you have Jack Wilshere too. Wenger has options in the middle but shunting Cazorla out to the left lessened his impact on the match.

Theo Walcott signed a lucrative new four-year deal at Arsenal this week, reportedly for $218,000 per week, and the England international is extremely important for Wenger. Not just because the 26-year-old is now Arsenal’s longest serving player in the current squad, but because he can play either up top or out wide. All the talk this summer has been about Wenger spending outrageous money on a new top-class striker and although Walcott’s strikerate hasn’t been outstanding (76 goals in 300 appearances) if he gets a decent run up top he will deliver. He set up Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arsenal’s goal and was replaced by Olivier Giroud for the final 25 minutes. Walcott’s biggest problem is staying fit but if he can do that, Wenger has three classy strikers in Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Walcott. For now, Arsenal’s biggest problem has been solved.

Jose Mourinho to take charge of Juventus?

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Do we really think Jose Mourinho is ready for a return?

Multiple reports in Italy claims Juventus’ star forward Cristiano Ronaldo wants Mourinho to become their new manager after it was announced that Max Allegri is stepping down this summer after winning five-straight Serie A titles with the Turin club.

Mourinho, 56, has been out of a job since Manchester United fired him in December, but his status as a serial trophy winner remains intact.

Speaking recently on beIN Sport, where he has been popping up as a pundit on multiple occasions,

“One of the players that I have a great relation with, he plays for a team and he told me, ‘You should come here next season’, and I told him, ‘They don’t love me.’ He told me, ‘You win three matches and they will start loving you.'”

Hmm. Who could he be talking about?

Mourinho didn’t endear himself to Juve’s fans during his time at their rivals Inter Milan where he won the treble, including the UEFA Champions League in 2010. He then added further fuel to the fire as United won late on at Juve in the group stage of the Champions League earlier this season, which then saw Mourinho run out onto the field at full time and goad the home supporters who had mocked him the entire game due to his successful spell at Inter.

Would that stop Juve from hiring him? Probably not. Juve’s CEO Andrea Agnelli is a man who wants success and he wants it now.

Mourinho has also said he plans to be back in a job by this summer, just six months after being fired by United.

He has some time out to reflect on where things went wrong at United and how he can better understand the media demands which surround the game and now it seems like he is ready to dive back in at the deep end.

Juve are one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and everything is in place for them to make another deep run in the Champions League next season, and something drastic would have to happen for them to not win the Italian league in 2019-20.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Mourinho landed at Juve this summer as his defensive tactics suit Serie A and the Italian champs are desperate for success in Europe after bringing in Ronaldo, 34, on a huge salary to win the Champions League. Ronaldo will have a huge say on who the next Juve boss will be, and he is said to not be keen on either Antonio Conte or Maurizio Sarri taking over from Allegri.

If this happens, it would be a lot of fun. Have your popcorn at the ready…

Alaves seeks new coach after Fernandez resigns

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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Alaves says coach Abelardo Fernandez has resigned.

Alaves says it was Fernandez’s decision to leave after leading the modest Basque Country team to an 11th-place finish in the Spanish league.

[ MORE: La Liga results, stats

Fernandez said in a news conference on Monday the club did everything it could to try to keep him, but he felt he “would not be at 100 percent next season” and decided it was best to resign.

Fernandez joined Alaves at the end of 2017, helping the team finish 14th in the league last season, comfortably escaping relegation.

The club had a surprising start to this season, being as high as second in the standings and remaining in the fight for the final Champions League place until about 10 rounds to go.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Transfer rumor roundup: Felix to Man United; Sane to Bayern

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Benfica’s teenage superstar Joao Felix reportedly has a release clause of $130 million, and Manchester United are among the host of clubs ready to trigger it.

A report from the Daily Record says that United and Real Madrid are both ready to seal the deal for the 19-year-old attacking midfielder. Per the report United have opened talks with Benfica and their representatives were in Lisbon to see him play for the final time this season.

Felix has burst onto the scene in Europe this season and has helped Benfica win the Portuguese league title. His 20 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season prove his pedigree, and United certainly need to rebuild their squad. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has constantly spoken about adding young, hungry, talented players this summer, and Felix is touted as the best young playmaker in Europe right now.

This transfer deal would make Felix the most expensive signing in United and Premier League history, and it does make you wonder if a deal is being lined up to offload Paul Pogba to Real Madrid and replace him with Felix.


Manchester City are struggling to keep hold of one of their stars, as a report from the Daily Mirror says that Bayern Munich are increasingly confident of signing Leroy Sane this summer.

Sane, 23, has failed to agree a new contract at City despite being in talks with the club for 18 months and Pep Guardiola has admitted he could leave this summer in search of more game time. Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva are City’s main starters in the wide attacking midfield roles, which has meant Sane and Riyad Mahrez have had to fight for minutes off the bench and starts here and there during their historic 2018-19 season.

That has often led to Sane looking pretty unhappy on the sidelines, but when he has got the chance to play he has been pretty good with his best-ever season in terms of goals scored with 16 across all competitions. Coming off the back of his shock omission from Germany’s 2018 World Cup squad, Sane has bounced back well and scored a pivotal goal in Man City’s PL win against Liverpool and a stunning free kick late on against his old club Schalke in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

Sane moving to Bayern would make sense as legendary wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are moving on, with Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman set to take their mantle and any summer move for Callum Hudson-Odoi now in doubt after his serious injury. The German international has delivered in his three seasons at City, but Guardiola often seems enraged by his penchant for drifting inside with his runs and with the ball instead of staying wide on the touchline.

It seems like the stars are aligning for Sane to return to Germany and be a star at Bayern.

Out of contract Premier League Best XI

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With the 2018-19 season in the books, Premier League clubs are already turning their attention to next season.

Players are coming towards the end of their contracts, with the PL’s summer transfer now open which means some players can move on free transfers when their deals expire, usually on July 1.

Which players are available to pick up at the end of their deals on freebies?

There is always a lot of chatter at this time of the year about who will stay, which players have a one-year option to extend their deals, and which clubs also have that option. Olivier Giroud will stay at Chelsea for one more season, but he would have been the top striker available on a freebie this summer, while Ander Herrera is expected to sign for PSG after announcing he will leave Man United when his contract expires.

However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding several star names at some of the PL’s biggest clubs. If you are a newly promoted club (Norwich, Sheffield United and one of Aston Villa and Derby County) you are no doubt looking at this list of experienced PL players and getting pretty excited.

Take a look at our “Out of Contract Best XI” below, as several players have yet to agree new deals with their current clubs.


Premier League, Out of Contract Best XI – 4-4-2 formation

—– Michel Vorm —–

Danny SimpsonGary CahillPhil JagielkaNacho Monreal — 

Antonio ValenciaMohamed DiameJuan MataAlberto Moreno — 

—- Daniel Sturridge —- Fernando Llorente —- 

On the bench
Willy Caballero
Leighton Baines
Danny Williams
Ander Herrera (expected to join PSG on free transfer)
Samir Nasri
Bakary Sako
Andy Carroll