Arsenal vs Chelsea: Five things we learnt from the Community Shield match at Wembley

Matic exposed, Ramsey takes centre stage and Falcao showing no sign of life

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Ramires plugs the gap after Matic is left exposed again

If there was one thing missing from Chelsea last season, despite their title, it was extra control in midfield in big games. Twice against Manchester City and twice against Paris Saint-Germain they failed to lock down games, something Jose Mourinho teams are meant to be especially adept at.

Cesc Fabregas, for all his skills, does not do much defending, and so Nemanja Matic was often left exposed at the base of an unusually flimsy midfield triangle. Chelsea did not always look like a true Mourinho team, especially when Tottenham realised they could play round Matic in New Year’s Day’s absurd 5-3 defeat.

Some had expected Chelsea to fill that gap in the transfer market, and they may yet, especially with former Mourinho favourite Esteban Cambiasso a free agent.

But yesterday, in the first half, Mourinho tried a new solution: Ramires. The energetic Brazilian started only 17 games in all competitions last season, owing to injuries, but he has many of the attributes Mourinho traditionally values. In the first half he took to his enforcing job with enthusiasm, making Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil more than aware of his presence with two uncompromising tackles. He could have equalised with a header just before the break, but missed. When the teams emerged for the second half, Ramires was back out wide on the right, with Fabregas back in the middle.

Ramsey stays true to his word to take centre stage

Aaron Ramsey was very clear about his future when he spoke to The Independent at the end of last season. “I am not hiding away from it, I want to be playing in the middle,” he said. “I like to drive the team forward and be involved in everything. Out on the wing you are relying on other people to get you in the game.”

On Sunday afternoon Ramsey got his wish. He was reunited with Francis Coquelin in the middle of Arsenal’s midfield, while Cazorla, last year’s chief creator, moved out to the left.

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Aaron Ramsey impressed in the middle

Arsène Wenger’s switch certainly worked. Ramsey gave Arsenal drive through the middle of the pitch, starting attacks and breaking into the penalty area. Chelsea struggled to track his runs into the box and Ramsey ought to have put Arsenal 2-0 up when he darted on to Cazorla’s pass and hit the side netting with his left foot.

As the afternoon went on, Ramsey continued to give Arsenal something they had lacked, and when he darted down the right and pulled a cross back to Olivier Giroud, Arsenal should have doubled their lead. But it was an impressive outing from a man whose best performances always coincide with Arsenal’s best.

Walcott repays Wenger’s faith as Giroud pays price

Maybe it should not have come as a surprise when Wenger chose Theo Walcott ahead of Giroud to start up front. In Arsenal’s last competitive game, here at Wembley just over two months ago in the FA Cup final, he picked Walcott and was handsomely rewarded with the opening goal in a 4-0 win. Moreover, Giroud has never scored against Chelsea and his blunt performance in the 0-0 draw between the sides in April at the Emirates did not suggest that he was likely to break his duck soon.

And yet despite all of that, Giroud is Arsenal’s only senior specialised centre-forward and more than a few eyebrows were raised when the teams were announced at 2pm.

The decision, though, was backed up by a lively, dangerous performance from Walcott, always looking to run in behind and test John Terry and Gary Cahill in a way Giroud never does.

Walcott posed Chelsea real questions and it was his clever little pass to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that set up Arsenal’s only goal. When Giroud replaced him in the second half, he had one good chance which he put over the bar.

Giroud is a good player who has his uses but Walcott could now be the preferred pick.

Early days, but Falcao is yet to show signs of comeback

It is one of the questions that will define Chelsea’s season: which Radamel Falcao have they signed? The man who terrorised Europe with Porto and Atletico Madrid, scoring almost a goal every game, looking like one of the most complete No 9s in the world game? Or the man who ruptured knee ligaments playing for Monaco, missed the 2014 World Cup and made no impression at Manchester United, nor at this summer’s Copa America?

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Radamel Falcao has plenty to do to be a success

The first could give Chelsea an extra dimension, at home and in Europe, especially for those games – and there will be a few – when Diego Costa is unavailable. The second would make Chelsea fans wonder why they got rid of Didier Drogba, or even Demba Ba.

After 45 rather unsatisfying minutes of Loïc Rémy, Falcao came on at half-time to give Chelsea more presence up front. He scurried around as well as he could, trying to make clever darts in the box that his brain can still spot. He could never quite escape away from defenders, though, and Arsenal ultimately saw out their 1-0 lead with ease. Maybe Falcao will improve under Mourinho’s expert conditioning team and maybe his tired body will eventually start to respond. But the evidence is not there yet.

Oxlade-Chamberlain makes claim to fill vacant right wing

If Walcott is to start up front for Arsenal this season, and Ramsey in the middle, then it opens up a place on the right wing. Yesterday it was given to Oxlade-Chamberlain, making his first start for five months after missing the end of last season with a groin injury.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was excellent, scoring the only goal of the game and winning man of the match with an impressive all-round performance.

Arsenal lacked width at times last year but here Oxlade-Chamberlain gave them that and more, darting to the byline, escaping from Cesar Azpilicueta and giving Chelsea something to think about from the start.

Azpilicueta had been warned and should have been more attentive when Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, the Arsenal player skipping inside him and hitting a left-footed shot into the far top corner.

From that point, Oxlade-Chamberlain continued to impress, driving Arsenal forward with a dynamism they have often lacked. If Oxlade-Chamberlain can take this form into the season, it is good news for Arsenal and for England.

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