Mourinho monkey off Wenger's back, at last
Huge psychological boost for Wenger as he gets Mourinho monkey off his back
(Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 24)
The carcass of an unwanted primate was left on the Wembley turf.
Arsene Wenger got the monkey off his back, with the help of an ox.
For the first time, in 14 attempts, the Arsenal manager got the measure of the man; the manager he loathes the most.
Wenger defeated Jose Mourinho.
He's no longer the punchline for the Portuguese showman at press conferences. He's no longer a quirky fun fact. He's no longer a beaten man.
After 13 winless games, he found victory.
The occasion was the otherwise meaningless Community Shield last night (Singapore time), but the 1-0 result should not be understated.
Mourinho mocked his opponents all week. He talked but, in the end, his players walked.
They didn't show up. They were toothless in attack and savaged by an ox.
In a pedestrian contest, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain powered through to publish Arsenal's statement of intent.
The Gunners are genuine title challengers now. They have the makings of a winning squad and their manager now has Mourinho's number.
While the Ox was inspired, the Blues were mostly insipid.
Arsenal edged the contest because they had the edge in attack.
Community Shield contests are often somewhere between summer stroll and tranquil training session and, for most of the game, it was a lazy Sunday afternoon for all concerned. Even the crowd had nodded off in the drowsy sunshine, until Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived with the wake-up call.
And it took 506 minutes.
Arsenal had endured 506 agonising, infuriating, debilitating minutes since their previous goal against Chelsea.
And the strike was sublime when it finally arrived.
Theo Walcott, picked ahead of Olivier Giroud up front, dropped deep to feed Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right.
The 21-year-old cut inside Cesar Azpilicueta like a runaway lawnmower, before bending a ferocious effort into the top corner.
Thibaut Courtois couldn't get close. His teammates knew the feeling.
Chelsea's pre-season preparations have been laboured and it showed.
Loic Remy got the nod ahead of Radamel Falcao, but he was no less anonymous than Eden Hazard. Willian buzzed sporadically, but little else fizzed for the flat Blues.
Despite being started in an advanced position, Cesc Fabregas dropped deeper in a dogged attempt to pick up possession.
It didn't work. Instead, the Gunners swopped passes for fun, with Mesut Oezil, Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin linking with Oxlade-Chamberlain to skip past the statuesque Chelsea midfield.
Remy left the field at half-time with a question mark hanging over his head and didn't return.
His ineffectual performance will makes Mourinho's transfer activity all the more puzzling.
Remy was woeful. He was lost when play drifted away and a liability in possession. The Frenchman lacks the calibre to defend titles and Falcao, who replaced him, has lacked consistency for two seasons now.
Mourinho must go to market one more time before the window closes.
But then, the jury has yet to return on Arsenal's leading man.
Typically, Walcott started brightly but tiptoed out of the spotlight as the game petered out before being replaced by Giroud.
Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez are still to return, but the absence of such brutish competitors underlined how lightweight both sides are around the box.
Neither side lack panache in the final third. Power and penetration are a little harder to come by.
The clock ticked towards 70 minutes before Petr Cech was finally tested against his former club, tipping around Oscar's free-kick.
And Giroud's miss from six metres moments later had Wenger rocking back and forth on the bench like newborn's cradle in the breeze.
Both teams are defensively sound, but outscoring the two halves of Manchester might prove to be the greater challenge in the upcoming season.
Of course, the Community Shield can be interpreted in any number of ways, most of which prove to be wrong.
Arsenal stuffed Manchester City 3-0 last season, but still finished behind them in the final standings.
This was a curtain-raiser, however, where the show was less relevant than the result.
Wenger's losing streak against Mourinho is over. He's no longer manacled to that Mourinho statistic. He has beaten the belligerent one.
Both sides plodded in midfield, but the Gunners had the cutting edge in attack.
And it could be Arsenal's year, if it proves to be the year of the Ox.
'Gunners won't win EPL'
Roy Keane has written off Arsenal's chances of winning the English Premier League this season.
The former Manchester United captain (photo) says the Gunner have too many players who are "more interested in selfies and six-packs" than winning titles.
Arsene Wenger's side have not lifted the EPL trophy since the 2003-2004 campaign and Keane believes the drought will continue.
"Arsenal have some really good players, some good characters who roll their sleeves up," said Keane.
"But they also have got one or two players who are more interested in selfies and six-packs, guys who are trying to get their pictures taken every day of the week.
"Every year we hear the same thing about Arsenal being contenders, but there are too many Arsenal players interested in selfies.
"Instead of focusing on winning league titles, it's all about how their bodies look, how their hair is, more so than winning football matches.
"Look at all the players they've bought over the last couple of years - I'm not sure many would get into the Chelsea team."
Keane expects Jose Mourinho's Blues to defend their league title successfully.
"For me, Chelsea remain the team to beat," he said.
"Their team are the one with the strongest spine - John Terry, their goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois), Eden Hazard - and if they can add John Stones to their team, then they will be even harder to beat.
"The bottom line is that if Chelsea's players show the same hunger and desire that they did last year, then they'll win the league.
"They will be in trouble only if they are complacent, but I don't think it is in their nature to take their foot off the gas.
"They appear to be a driven bunch and, if they can keep Diego Costa fit and keep their wits about them, then it's hard to look elsewhere."
Keane is also doubtful that his former club United can challenge Chelsea.
"I don't think the spine of United is strong enough," he added.
"I still think they need a centre back maybe. United will no doubt be better next year. They'll need to be stronger out of the blocks, but if I was a betting man, which I'm not, I'd still go with Chelsea." - Wire Services.
By the numbers
506 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's stunning strike was Arsenal's first goal against Chelsea for 506 minutes.