It seemed fitting that an empty-feeling, but still impressively intense Community Shield should end with a penalty shootout. The game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. Enter Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, king of the crowd-free Wembley Stadium.
Aubameyang had scored the game’s opening goal an hour and a half earlier on a grizzly grey afternoon. That made it five in his past three games at the locked-down national stadium, all of those goals coming against the combined might of Manchester City, Chelsea and now Liverpool.
There was a twitch of the hips as Aubameyang slotted the winning penalty, ensuring the first trophy of the new season went to Arsenal – who also won the last trophy of the old one, 28 days ago in the same stadium.
Rhian Brewster had been the only player to miss, spanking the ball a little wildly on to the bar having only just entered the game. In truth neither team had really looked ready to win, although there were intriguing sub-plots.
Arsenal’s impressive counter-attacking reorganisation under Mikel Arteta continued. Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Naitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka performed with craft and energy, young players who have clearly responded to the demands of their new manager. For Liverpool Takumi Minamino scored his first goal and found some inventive attacking spaces in the second half.