Arsenal win glorified friendly but fans right to feel optimistic
Arsenal's Community Shield victory over Chelsea means little beyond the niceties of beating a close rival at Wembley, but there were still positives to take from the performance and result ahead of the new season.
The win was achieved without Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi -- all of whom would be likely first team regulars if they were fit and available -- and it showed that there is more depth to this Arsenal squad than people think.
You shouldn't read too much into what is essentially a glorified friendly, but fans will have been excited by the performance of new signing Sead Kolasinac, introduced during the first half after an injury to captain Per Mertesacker.
In a summer where transfer fees have gone beyond the point where they make any sense, his arrival has flown under the radar. On the basis of his display on Sunday, Arsene Wenger has got great value for money in signing the Bosnian international for free from Schalke.
He was part of the Bundesliga team of the season last year, and you can see why. He's deceptively quick for such a big man, and there's no escaping the power and physicality he brings to a team which has, in recent years, been a bit too easy to bully. That he marked his debut with a goal was the icing on what was a pretty tasty cake, and no doubt he'll be a player who can have a real impact for the Gunners in the season ahead.
The other signing of the summer, Alexandre Lacazette, was quieter, but still came close to scoring with a good effort that rebounded off the post. While Kolasicac looks the kind of player who will make things happen, or stop them happening at the defensive end, the French striker is in many ways dependent on the service he gets. So when Ozil and Sanchez return, he'll surely benefit from having the team's two most creative players behind him.
Meanwhile, there was further evidence of the increasing influence Granit Xhaka has on this Arsenal side. While the Swiss international had some disciplinary difficulties, he grew steadily in stature during his first campaign for the Gunners, and towards the end of the season he was integral to the new system that saw Wenger deploy three at the back for the first time in his Arsenal reign.
The 24-year-old was voted man of the match at Wembley on Sunday, and despite being very harshly written off by some observers, it was a display that should cause them to change their tune. His passing range is superb, he got an assist for the goal and in the absence of playmakers Ozil and Sanchez, he took on the responsibility from a much deeper area of the pitch. The partnership with the industrious Mohamed Elneny worked well, and if he can stay fit and out of the referee's book he looks set to really flourish this season.
After the game, Wenger spoke about his need to trim the current squad, saying too much competition for places was "detrimental". While Ramsey, Sanchez, Ozil and Koscielny were not involved due to injury, too many more were not involved simply because they're not wanted.
The need to trim the fat of men like Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Lucas Perez and others is unquestionable, and will be something of a challenge for Arsenal between now and the end of the transfer window.
However, we saw evidence at Wembley that even without some of their most important players, Wenger has a deep pool of talent to pull from as they prepare for their Premier League opener against Leicester on Friday night.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.