Onetime Arsenal hard-tackling defender, Martin Keown, wants Sunday’s opponents in the Community Shield clash – FA Cup champions Chelsea and Premier League champions, Manchester City to raise the tempo and give the showpiece a befitting touch of class for all to enjoy.
Keown who won three Community Shields with Arsenal during his 12-year career at the London club disagrees with people who rate the champions’ match as a mere friendly encounter.
The former England international says his personal experience convinces him that Community Shield should be taken very seriously and appreciated better.
Keown recalls winning it in a big way and celebrating the feat in 1999 against Manchester United with great teammates like former Nigeria captain Kanu Nwankwo Kanu and ex-England midfielder, Ray Parlour, as though the pair could be consulted for confirmation about how massive and important Community Shield is.
“Don’t let anyone tell you the Community Shield is a friendly,” Keown writes in his article for Daily Mail ahead of Sunday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester City.
“I played in four of these matches, lifting the trophy three times, and sweated blood to win it.
“I remember celebrating on the pitch at Wembley with Ray Parlour and Kanu after beating Manchester United 2-1 in 1999. We never saw it as an irrelevance. It was something we always wanted to win.
“Arsenal would even delay the team photograph until after the game so we could display as many trophies as possible!
“I am sure Pep Guardiola would welcome another piece of silverware to sit alongside last season’s Premier League and League Cup at Manchester City.
“It is the perfect dress rehearsal for the first game of the season. I would sooner sharpen up by playing in this match than a pre-season friendly. You are not quite 100 per cent fit but are having to test yourself against one of your rivals at Wembley. It’s a chance to shake off the cobwebs and hone your skills without the pressure of trying to win three points.
“I faced United three times and Liverpool once in these games. Winning was an opportunity to send a signal to the rest of the Premier League.
“Alex Ferguson would say that it didn’t matter when his side lost. For us, victory was reassuring. It helped us feel that it would be business as usual and that we could have another successful campaign
“Manchester City and Chelsea will not be at full strength on Sunday but it will still be a huge confidence boost for Maurizio Sarri and his team should they defeat the champions.”