Arsenal v Liverpool: Community Shield surprise on the cards at Wembley

The underdogs often deliver in the Community Shield and Andy Schooler is happy to back Arsenal at a decent price against Liverpool in Saturday's 2020 renewal...

Arsenal v Liverpool
Saturday August 29, 16:30
Live on BT Sport 1

2020 has been a year like no other yet the Community Shield remains the 'traditional curtain-raiser' for the English football season.

It's even still taking place in August. As a line from a certain Disney soundtrack many parents will have heard too often during the year's many child-filled days, some things never change.

After the extended 2019/20 campaign, Premier League champions Liverpool only began pre-season training on August 19. For FA Cup winners Arsenal, the return came earlier this week - Monday to be precise. Still, both had only been away a handful of weeks.

Herein lies the difference between this year's Shield contest - it comes very quickly into pre-season and also, due to the forthcoming international window, takes place two weeks before the league campaign begins, rather than the usual one.

Gunners' strong finish

This change in circumstances from the norm make Arsenal - the considerable underdogs - worth siding with.

They ended 2019/20 (just four weeks ago) in fine fettle, beating Wolves, Liverpool (2-1 at the Emirates in the league), Manchester City and Chelsea in the last month of the season. Overall, they won eight of their 12 matches post-lockdown.

New boss Mikel Arteta, who clearly improved the team at both ends following his December arrival, declared himself "very positive about where we are" prior to the 4-1 midweek win over MK Dons.

That game saw a very strong side play the first 45 minutes. It included fit-again keeper Bernd Leno and Mohamed Elneny, back from a loan spell at Besiktas.

The much-vaunted William Saliba, signed last summer from St Etienne before being loaned back to the French club, also started at centre-back and caught the eye.

Liverpool's Austrian adventure

Liverpool opted to begin pre-season in Austria where they played two games, defeating Stuttgart 3-0 before drawing 2-2 with Red Bull Salzburg.

Virgil van Dijk limped out of the latter game on Tuesday but he should be fit to play at Wembley and Trent Alexander-Arnold could make it too despite sitting out the trip with a knock.



In his absence, Neco Williams started at right-back in what were strong Liverpool XIs. That fact made it rather disappointing that they trailed 2-0 at half time against Salzburg before their youngsters rescued the situation.

Jurgen Klopp spoke afterwards of "heavy legs", not massively encouraging ahead of this game. He also mentioned "the kids" impressing in that second half so don't be surprised if a few feature here - think Williams, Curtis Jones and Rhian Brewster, the striker who netted three goals across the two friendlies.

He's 15/8 to score at anytime against the Gunners.

Clearly the Reds were highly impressive last season but post-lockdown they failed to hit the heights, winning only five of nine and unable to keep a clean sheet in their last five.

Champions odds-on - but poor value

Some poor defensive errors crept into their game and while it is easy to dismiss this by saying 'the title had already been won by then', it's usually the case that it's much harder to turn the taps back on than it is to simply keep them flowing.

At 1.70 for the win in 90 minutes, Liverpool look poor value and an Arsenal team who beat them only a matter of weeks ago look tempting at 5.10.

The draw is offered at 4.40. If that occurs, the Shield winners will be decided by penalties - Liverpool are 1.42 to lift the trophy with Arsenal at 3.25.

At this stage it is worth noting that the FA Cup winners - almost always the underdogs in this fixture - have taken home the Shield on 12 of 20 occasions since the turn of the century, although this figure includes three times when the Cup winners were also the league champions.

One such occasion was last season but in the five years prior to that, four of the five Shield matches saw the Cup winners beat the league champions. Three of the examples in that sample were victories for Arsenal.

All things considered, a small-stakes bet on the Gunners looks worth the risk.

Market expects goals

Goals are expected and given the forwards likely to be involved you can see why.

Over 2.5 goals is at 1.63 although history shows only 10 of those aforementioned 20 games have produced three or more.

Both teams to score (1.66) looks the better bet, certainly based on the historical trends.

That's landed in 13 of 20, plus nine of the 10 Arsenal-Liverpool games since the arrival of Klopp at Anfield.

Go low on cards

However, it's a delve into the cards markets I like the look of more - under 30 bookings points at 6/5 looks a bet.

The referee is Andre Marriner - the Premier League's most lenient in terms of cards shown last season. Eleven of his 24 league games in 2019/20 landed this bet, including five of seven behind closed doors.

The Community Shield also tends be a low-card affair, hardly a surprise given its pre-season friendly nature.

Four of the last six have seen under 30 bookings points, while three of the last five league meetings between the two clubs have also come in under that line.

Also, I can't resist a punt on there being no cards at all.

This occurred in Marriner's previous Shield appearance - when Chelsea met Manchester United in 2010 - and also landed in the 2018 renewal.

Liverpool were involved in five cardless league games last season and ended it with the best disciplinary record.

Arsenal were admittedly at the other end of the fairplay table but 13/1 about no cards at Wembley still seems a tad high.

Opta fact

Excluding league games, Liverpool have won just one of their last seven matches at Wembley. In contrast, Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 such games.


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