Arsenal rang-in the new season with a win over Chelsea in the Community Shield, beating their London rivals 4-1 on penalties after an entertaining 1-1 stalemate.
The season opener gave fans and fantasy football managers their first look at some of the biggest signings this summer, with Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Sead Kolasinac all involved in the Wembley curtain raiser.
Arsenal kick-off the new Premier League season against Leicester on Friday ahead of what many expect to be one of the most exciting seasons yet.
And Arsene Wenger will feel the confidence flowing after beating the champions, while Antonio Conte will spend the next week reevaluating his Chelsea squad.
So with that in mind, what did we learn from Arsenal’s Community Shield victory?
1 Sead Kolasinac could be the signing of the summer
With Arsenal signing Lacazette from Lyon for a club-record £52million, the Gunners first business of the summer – securing Kolasinac on a free-transfer – went somewhat under the radar.
And while all eyes were on Lacazette at kick-off, Kolasinac got his chance after 32 minutes when he came onto replace the bloodied Per Mertasacker.
Playing in an unfamiliar centre-back role, Kolasinac put in an excellent shift against Chelsea’s attack while his 82nd minute equaliser demonstrated his keen eye for goal.
Strong, bullish, physical and adept both defensively and going forward, the Bosnian is already a cult figure among Arsenal fans:
Priced at just £3.5m on Dream Team this season, you’d be mad to overlook him.
2 Alexandre Lacazette showed glimpses of things to come
The Frenchman is the fifth-most picked player on Dream Team so far this summer, with over 27% of fantasy football managers opting for the new boy.
So we were all eager to see how he’d get on in the Community Shield – and while failing to score – he did show glimpses of what he’s capable of.
The former Lyon man hit 37 goals in 45 games last season and there were signs of his fabled penalty box prowess at Wembley.
He went only inches away from scoring in the first-half, curling a lovely effort off the post to cap a decent free-flowing counter attack from the Gunners.
Linking up well with Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi in the Arsenal attack, you feel that with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil around him, Lacazette could seriously rake in the goals (and those Dream Team points) this season.
3 Chelsea’s squad is ridiculously small
It was a different story for Chelsea on Sunday.
While the Blues were only eight minutes away from securing their first piece of silverware of the new season, Conte’s side looked seriously under-stocked.
New signings Morata and Antonio Rudiger only made the bench for the season opener, with each making low-key appearances in the final 15 minutes (see below), while Timoue Bakayoko missed out all together through injury.
Selling the likes of Nemanja Matic, Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Ake this summer won’t make much of a difference to Conte’s preferred starting XI, but Chelsea’s squad is noticeably small compared to their rivals.
With the Blues back in the Champions League this season, and with added pressure from the their league rivals, Conte will be very keen to add to his squad numbers before the summer transfer window closes.
4 Alvaro Morata will recover from his Wembley wobble
Morata was hot-property this summer, with the ex-Real Madrid striker eventually heading to Chelsea as a direct replacement for the seemingly outbound Diego Costa.
But it was last season’s misfit Michy Batshuayi who lead the line for the Blues at Wembley, while Morata had to make do with coming off the bench on the 74th minute.
And it’s safe to say the new signing fluffed his lines, shooting clean over the bar deep in the second-half before firing his penalty embarrassingly wide of Petr Cech’s goal during the shootout.
While not the most ideal start to his Stamford Bridge career, Morata is a proven goalscorer for both Madrid and Juventus in recent seasons and has all the right attributes to succeed in the Premier League.
So don’t take him out of your Dream Team just yet.
5 The Community Shield is wonderfully meaningless
While it’s always nice to win the first game of the season, the real football doesn’t start until Friday.
Effectively, this is a mere pre-season friendly with a few more trimmings.
So, Pedro’s sending off will have no repercussions, Thibaut Courtois will certainly never take another penalty and (most importantly) you didn’t score or lose any points on Dream Team.
Have you signed up to play fantasy football yet?
If the answer is no you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.
Because the Dream Team game – the UK’s biggest fantasy football game – is back and better than ever this season.
You’ve got a £50m budget to pick 11 players, with all the biggest new signings ready and raring to go ahead of a mouthwatering new Premier League campaign.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up to play now!
Which fantasy football team names are the most popular?
Team names have become almost as important as picking winning sides in recent years, with the punnier the better the general perspective.
So whether it’s Giroud Sandstorm, Neville Wears Prada or Teenage Mutant Ninja Skrtel, check out our foolproof list to help you decide.
Who are the best bargains?
While we’d all like to be able to pick a team of superstars, that £50m budget means you also need to have an eye for a cheeky bargain.
This season there are quite a few intriguing options available, with Vincent Kompany (£3.5m) and Ander Herrera (£3.0m) both at eye-catching prices.
In attack, West Ham new boy and Manchester United favourite Javier Hernandez is £3.5m which seems like pennies for guaranteed goals.