Liverpool FC got their season off to an inauspicious start as Arsenal lifted the Community Shield, with the tie decided by a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
Jürgen Klopp’s first competitive XI of the 2020/21 season saw starts for Alisson, Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Neco Williams, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, James Milner, Sadio Mané, Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
A positive start from the Reds saw them press high in typical fashion and have the ball in the back of the net in the sixth minute through a Van Dijk volley. Unfortunately for Liverpool however, the Dutchman was found to be offside and the goal was quickly chalked off.
The disallowed goal did not disrupt Liverpool’s flow however, it was the FA Cup winners who took the lead against the run of play thanks to the ever-dangerous Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
A quick switch of play to the left wing by Bukayo Saka left the Gabonese international one on one with Neco Williams. The Gunners captain advanced forward before cutting in and curling along range effort round the diving Alisson and into the side-netting of the Liverpool net. 1-0 Arsenal after 12 minutes.
The Arsenal goal seemed to shake the Reds, with sloppy on the ball play by Gomez requiring Alisson’s intervention as Arsenal broke quickly looking to double their lead.
With this being said Klopp’s men quickly got back into their groove, keeping possession well and looking to carve out a chance against Mikel Arteta’s well-drilled defence.
Despite bossing possession, the Reds were unable to breach the Arsenal rear guard and went into the break yet to register an attempt on target.
The second half saw Liverpool begin the half with more attacking intent, finally registering an effort on target when Mané broke through on goal forcing a well-timed save from Emiliano Martinez.
Still bossing possession but lacking any real semblance of attacking threat Klopp turned to his bench, with Naby Keïta and Takumi Minamino being brought on to try change Liverpool’s attacking fortunes.
The substitutes proved to be inspired by Klopp as Minamino had the ball in the back of the net for the equaliser 13 minutes after being introduced.
Salah picked up the ball on the edge of the area and proceeded to strike fear into the Arsenal defence as he edged into the box. The Egyptian lost possession, however, a wicked ricochet took the ball into the path of Minamino who slotted cooly into the bottom corner. 1-1 after 73 minutes.
Having levelled the game the Reds looked to quickly hit Arsenal with a second deflating blow as Mané was given a golden chance in front of goal. Unfortunately, the Senegalese wideman, who had not had his finest performance in a Liverpool shirt, took his time on the ball and allowed Martinez to close the gap and smother the ball at his feet.
With the sides unable to be separated after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout was required to decide the game. The first four penalties were dispatched with ease; Salah, Fabinho, Nelson and Maitland-Niles all scoring to set a tense atmosphere.
Rhian Brewster was the unfortunate player to miss from the spot, with his powerful effort striking the bar. Soares, Minamino and Luiz resumed the normal service of success, with Luiz’ dispatched effort meaning that recent-substitute Curtis Jones had to score to keep the Reds in the contest. He duly did, leaving the final strike to be taken by Arsenal’s best player.
There are few players Liverpool fans would want less in this position, yet all were forced to watch on as captain Aubameyang stepped up and scored the decisive strike as Arsenal notched all five penalties.