The Community Shield acts as the bridge between pre-season tedium and Premier League competitiveness.
The winners claim it as a trophy in the bag while the losers dismiss it as just another friendly.
However, there was nothing friendly about Gary Cahill’s treatment of Per Mertesacker as Chelsea met Arsenal at Wembley this afternoon.
The two experienced centre-backs both jumped for a header following a Chelsea corner and by the time the hit the ground the Gunners’ German giant was a bloody mess.
Cahill caught his marker with a nasty elbow which drew blood immediately.
Mertesacker was taken off and replaced with new signing Sead Kolasinac.
Replays showed the German veteran had lost a significant amount of blood.
Thankfully, Mertesacker was able to walk off without the aid of a stretcher, suggesting just superficial damage rather than anything long-lasting.
Cahill’s elbow seemed to accidental as he had his eyes on the ball but the contact was forceful and dangerous.
The teams went in to half-time locked at 0-0 although both teams had chances to score.
Alexandre Lacazette hit the post with a sumptuous curling effort and Alex Iwobi had earlier caused problems in the box after committing three Chelsea defenders.
Mertesacker played out of his skin a few months ago when Arsenal beat Chelsea in last season’s FA Cup final and Arsene Wenger’s men looked more vulnerable after his departure.
Too much UFC during pre-season for Cahill, perhaps?
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