Winning trophies breads a habit of success in football, and conditions the players mentally to see themselves as winners.
We saw it for years under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, we have seen it in Jose Mourinho’s first spell with Chelsea and we saw it with Arsenal’s Invincibles under Arsene Wenger in the 2003/04 season – winning becomes a habit and so does winning trophies.
The Gunners have beaten the defending Premier League champions, not a low or mid table team their inferior, so they will fear no one this term.
If they can beat the champions, they can beat anyone in the league, so long as they are prepared to put in the work as they did on Sunday. This victory also sets the minimum standard of performance required from the team and the manager will no doubt be expecting even greater displays from his players as the season gets under way.
Last season the ‘big teams’ and the ‘big games’ proved a massive stumbling block for the Gunners who seemed to underperform against their major rivals, the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and even Manchester United and Everton. This win over the champions will likely go some way to dispel some of those doubts that may have been holding the players back mentally.
Meanwhile, winning away at Wembley, a neutral ground, could also be important to the players’ confidence and belief. It was away from the Emirates where they had been more comfortable against the top sides last term.
Whilst City pointed to the players they were missing as a reason for their defeat, Arsenal were missing the likes of Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott. Arsenal have, with the exception of their defensive ranks, got a lot of strength in depth at present.
The improvement of Yaya Sanogo has been demonstrable in pre-season, the arrival of Alexis Sanchez also makes them significantly more threatening in attack and the performances of Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers under pressure in the second half was also reason for optimism ahead of the new campaign.
Overall, as the manager has stated before, “If you do not believe you can do it, you have no chance at all”.
It could be argued this is precisely what has held the Gunners back in recent years: belief or the lack thereof. This FA Community Shield win over the Premier League champions could be significant this season, not only for the Gunners’ title challenge but for the Citizens’’ too.
Football is so often a game won and lost in the minds and hearts of the players, long before the first whistle and, in this instance, a small victory in terms of its material rewards could prove to be decisive in its psychological impact.