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Written by Square in the Air

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho don’t enjoy the friendliest of relationships. Barbs, insults and accusations have flown in both directions since the Portugese first entered English football and cast Arsenal into a supporting, rather than leading, role in the Premier League.

Call it mind games if you will, but the manager of the West London side clearly knows what he is doing – Wenger has never beaten Mourinho and Arsenal have now gone eight hours without scoring against Chelsea. Yet a new season dawns with Sunday’s traditional season opener, the Community Shield, at Wembley where these bitter rivals will renew acquaintances.
Many Arsenal supporters in the past few seaons have bemoaned their lack of a world class goalkeeper as the only piece of the puzzle missing. They have now got their wish as Arsenal poached Chelsea legend Petr Cech this summer for a mere £10m.

Cech isn’t a spring chicken anymore, and had been usurped by Thibaud Courtois, but is surely one of the top five keepers in the world on his worst day. Big money spent on both sides of Manchester may grab the column inches, but Cech seems like the signing of the season already. He’ll sure up a defence that was found wanting at times last season with his brand of vocal leadership tinged with a sense of calm. However, he won’t be able to score goals or control the midfield, which is where Sunday’s game will be won and lost. Chelsea have had a quiet summer in the transfer market, signalling Mourinho believes he has a squad to be repeat champions.

Asmir Begovic joined from Stoke to compensate for the loss of Cech and Radamel Falcao has been given the chance to rekindle his career with another season long loan – if anyone can get Falcao back to his devastating best, you’d think it would be Mourinho. Felipe Luiz has gone back to Athletic Madrid – featuring just 26 times for the Blues – after finding Cesar Azpilicueta too difficult to shift from his adopted left back position. Inevitably, Chelsea will loan out an army of players but the core of the title winning squad remains the same. Victor Moses has returned from a number of loan spells and has sparkled thus far in preseason, suggesting there is method in the perceived madness.

Summer exploits aside, former-Gunner Cesc Fabregas has picked up where he left off with a number of assists, and Eden Hazard looks even quicker and more incisive, during the preseason tour to the States. Arsenal have had a fine preseason of their own but are shorn of the services of Alexis Sanchez, Danny Wellbeck, and Tomas Rosicky for this early season test. Although Diego Costa may have a slight tweak in his troubled hamstring, and Gary Cahill has a broken nose, both should line up for the Pensioners.

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