From a Liverpool fan’s perspective, this campaign’s Community Shield felt like a carbon-copy of last year’s edition.
The Reds started slightly off the pace, were punished, then grew into the game.
Just like last season, greater intensity brought about a late equaliser, and the Reds could well have found a winner.
This time it was Sadio Mané, as opposed to Mohamed Salah, who was denied.
But with the lottery of penalties, anything can happen. And when Rhian Brewster – specifically brought on to take a spot kick – stepped up, you could read the nerves all over his face.
Liverpool lose the domestic curtain raiser on penalties, again, but last season suggests that there are worse omens to go by.
Don Kopleone, with the ratings:
Ali 7 – superb save to deny Nketiah in the first half. Failed to lay a glove on any Arsenal penalties, though.
Neco 5 – Tormented early on by Aubameyang, who was granted too much space for the Arsenal goal by the young Welshman.
Gomez 7 – tasked with covering Neco, and largely did so well. Not a perfect performance by any means, but made some key interceptions.
Virgil 7.5 – crucial in denying a number of Arsenal opportunities when balls were allowed to be delivered into the box, with a subtle body movement often enough to thwart the threat.
Robbo 7.5 – Liverpool’s greatest creative threat. Countless dangerous crosses that would have been converted on another day.
Gini 5.5 – poor and ineffective until Liverpool transitioned to a 4-2-3-1 in the second half.
Fab 6.5 – the best of Liverpool’s midfield starters, though that bar was not a high one.
Milner 6.5 – quite neat on the ball, frequently feeding Robertson with good service, but often pulled too wide to really control the midfield.
Salah 6 – the Egyptian will be disappointed with how little impact he had, even if he did well when given the ball.
Bobby 7 – surprised that he was taken off with Liverpool looking the more likely team to find a winner. Change seemed to unsettle the side.
Mané 7 – interplay and press were superb but heavy touches denied the Senegalese two big goalscoring chances in the second half.
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Keïta 7 – changed the game in a positive sense, immediately offering greater impetus than we had earlier seen from the midfield. Lost risky possession in his own third twice, however.
Minamino 7 – less instant impact than Keïta on general gameplay, but finished his chance well. Looked confident when blasting his penalty too.
Jones 6.5 – didn’t quite get to grips with the pace of game in his ten minutes, but dispatched the best penalty of the shootout.
Brewster N/A – feel the timing of his substitution brought even greater pressure onto his spot kick.