Old rivalries will be renewed when Arsenal play Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday, with the Gunners hoping to prove they are the real deal and finally a match for the Premier League champions ahead of the new season.
Arsenal won the FA Cup for the second successive year in May but finished third in the Premier League last season, 12 points behind winners Chelsea.
Having signed Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who won four Premier Leaguetitles and the Champions League during 11 years at Stamford Bridge, the Gunners should now possess the solidity at the back to complement their free-flowing attack.
While Cech will go from Chelsea friend to foe in the traditional season-opening match between the Premier League champions and FA Cupwinners, the loveless relationship between the two managers gives the fixture added spice.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appeared to push Jose Mourinho during a touchline spat last season, while the Chelsea boss described the Frenchman as “a specialist in failure” in 2014.
Mourinho, however, expects the Gunners to challenge for the title this season after assembling a squad that contains the likes of 42 million pounds ($65.54 million) playmaker Mesut Ozil and 35 million pounds forward Alexis Sanchez.
“If you add up the amounts clubs have spent in the last three or four years, I think maybe you will find a surprise,” Mourinho told reporters.
“It’s a fantastic squad with good players, fantastic goalkeeper, they are more than ready to be title contenders.”
Chelsea, who beat Arsenal 2-1 in the last Community Shield meeting between the two sides in 2005, have injury concerns over striker Diego Costaand defender Gary Cahill.
Arsenal beat Manchester City 3-0 in last year’s Community Shield but the north Londoners will be without forwards Sanchez and Danny Welbeck for the trip to Wembley.
Wenger’s winless run against Mourinho stands at 13 games but the Gunners have enjoyed a strong pre-season, scoring 14 goals and conceding once as they won the Asia Trophy and Emirates Cup.
“We know we will be better and we work very hard to better,” Wenger told reporters.
“Let’s not forget that Chelsea won the Premier League with a comfortable distance last year.
“There was still a gap between them and the others but the desire is to improve and to move up there to fight for the championship. Let’s start well and try to give our best.”