Some fans may view the Community Shield as a glorified friendly but the Premier League prelude offers much more than a mere runabout.
Contested between the champions of England and current FA Cup holders, the Wembley showpiece brings the heavyweights to the ring and offers fans a scintillating starter before the mouthwatering main course of Premier League football.
This year is no exception. The capital will welcome two giants of the game to the national stadium: Liverpool and Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp against Mikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang versus Virgil van Dijk. The subplots are plentiful.
But there is one reason above all else that keeps us coming back to the Community Shield: debuts. The curtain raiser offers a glimpse of new summer signings on display against the very best. Were they all you had hoped for, or have you written them off already?
It will be the former for these lads below, who all netted memorable debut goals in the Community Shield. But did those maiden moments prove to be a sign of things to come, or a false dawn? Well, we assessed the rest of their debut seasons to see how they got on….
2000: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea)
Before the likes of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa were scoring goals for fun at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea terraces were singing Hasselbaink’s name. Having already made a name for himself in the Premier League with Leeds United, for whom he netted 34 goals in 69 games, Chelsea snapped up the prolific marksman from Atletico Madrid at the turn of the century.
Despite notching 24 goals in the 1999/2000 season, Atleti slipped down to the Segunda Division and Chelsea wasted no time in bringing Hasselbaink to west London. If there were any doubts (not that there should have been) those were completely obliterated 22 minutes into the Dutchman’s debut as he scored in a 2-0 win over Man Utd in the Community Shield.
Ronny Johnsen and Jaap Stam could do little as Hasselbaink took centre stage, and they would not be alone that season. With Roberto Di Matteo, Gianfranco Zola and Gus Poyet offering support, Hasselbaink walloped an eye-watering 23 in his debut season, collecting a Golden Boot in the process. Not bad, Jimmy.
2001: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Man Utd)
From Community Shield despair one year, to delight the next for Man Utd. This would be the game Ruud van Nistelrooy introduced himself to the Premier League, offering fans a snapshot of his true goalscoring devastation. The 2001 showpiece may have gone to Liverpool, but Van Nistelrooy threw down the gauntlet.
With Andy Cole leaving that year and Dwight Yorke on the wane, Sir Alex Ferguson needed a new star striker to invigorate the frontline and continue terrorising Premier League defenders. Step up Van Nistelrooy, who became an instant hit after scoring against bitter rivals Liverpool. He could have retired then and gone down in folklore.
Clad in that iconic jersey, the Dutch sensation built on his Liverpool performance and netted 23 league goals in his first Man Utd season (36 in total), aptly earning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award and an early entry in the Old Trafford Hall of Fame.
You can almost still hear chants of ‘Ruud’ echoing across the terraces now.
2002: Gilberto Silva (Arsenal)
With the arrival of Arsene Wenger, the foreign import was becoming a more frequent occurrence among English clubs, but nine times out of 10 clubs usually played it safe and stuck to European punts. Arsenal, however, were branching out and changing the landscape.
When Gilberto Silva arrived from Atletico Mineiro in 2002, though, no eyebrows were raised, as he had just starred in Brazil’s World Cup win and Arsenal needed leaders following the retirements of both Lee Dixon and Tony Adams.
Replacing compatriot Edu at half-time, Gilberto shone in the second half of the 2002 Community Shield and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Liverpool in Cardiff. And he would return to the Millennium Stadium nine months later as the Gunners lifted the FA Cup trophy at the expense of Southampton.
By that point, Gilberto was already a fully-fledged midfield general in Wenger’s XI, but they just missed out on the Premier League title to Man Utd.
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2004: Alan Smith (Man Utd)
Facing Arsenal’s Invincibles, Fergie’s charges were unable to stop the flow of goals as Thierry Henry and Co went to work in the 2004 final, but Alan Smith did manage to leave his mark in a 3-1 reversal.
Having signed from recently-relegated Leeds to much anguish in West Yorkshire, Smith would go on to enjoy his most prolific and best season post-Elland Road in that first year at Old Trafford. Ten goals in 42 games was a decent output for a maiden term.
However, the former England international went on to suffer career-altering injuries that hampered his Man Utd tenure. But, there is no question, that 2004/05 season was an exceptionally fruitful one for Smith.
2006: Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)
This was the big one for Chelsea. Think Lionel Messi’s current transfer saga is epic, well may I offer you Shevchenko in 2006? The Ukrainian was a Champions League winner and Ballon d’Or recipient by the time Chelsea came knocking, and after he bagged a debut goal against Liverpool in the 2006 Community Shield, you could forgive the Shed End for thinking the Premier League title was already in the bag.
The Blues broke a British transfer record to lure Shevchenko away from the San Siro, and after following up his Community Shield goal with another against Middlesbrough on matchday two, optimism was rife. However, the penalty-box assassin didn’t quite live up to the hype.
A return of just four Premier League goals during his debut season wasn’t quite what fans had in mind, but he did help the club win a domestic double that season, scoring a crucial goal against Tottenham in the FA Cup quarter-final, as well as one in the semis of the League Cup, against Wycombe of all teams.
So, not all doom and gloom.
2007: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
The first Community Shield to be played at the new Wembley Stadium saw Florent Malouda introduce himself to the Chelsea faithful. The path from Ligue 1 to Stamford Bridge had proven more than effective in the early 2000s, with Drogba and Michael Essien turning out to be quite the masterstrokes, so the Blues tried their luck again in the 2007/08 summer window.
Arriving from Lyon, Malouda quickly set to work in a Chelsea shirt, levelling proceedings at Wembley against reigning champions Man Utd, but it would be the Red Devils who got the last laugh, winning on penalties after all three of Chelsea’s men missed from the spot in a penalty shootout.
We now associate Malouda with wing-wizardry and playing a crucial role in a Champions League-winning run, but back in 2007/08 a knee injury stifled his maiden season, restricting the Frenchman to just 21 league appearances.
That considered, he helped the Blues reach the League Cup final, assisting both winners against Everton in the two-legged semis, and started in the Champions League final against Man Utd. Unfortunately he couldn’t repeat his Community Shield exploits from nine months prior in Moscow.
2010: Javier Hernandez (Man Utd)
A fox in the box, Chicharito repaid the faith shown in him by Ferguson and immediately showcased his poacher’s instinct with a debut Community Shield goal against Chelsea in 2010. And things would just get better and better from there.
The Mexican didn’t have the technical verve of Rooney or the elegance of Dimitar Berbatov, but he certainly knew where the back of the net was, and he marked his first season at Old Trafford with an impressive 13-goal haul, even more impressive when you consider he started just 15 games.
The Red Devils cantered to the Premier League title and reached the Champions League final, but they were unfortunate to come up against Pep Guardiola and Messi that day.
2016: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd)
Never one for a lowkey entrance, the Swede was very much in his twilight years by the time he entered Old Trafford, but if anyone thought a 34-year-old Ibra would appear jaded in the Premier League, they would be in for a rude awakening. Even now at 38 he is still doing the business at the very peak.
Facing Claudio Ranieri’s famous Leicester City side in the 2016 Community Shield, there appeared to be no hangover for the Foxes as Jamie Vardy cancelled out Jesse Lingard’s opener, but of course, Ibrahimovic would have the final say, breaching Kasper Schmeichel’s net in the dying embers of the game.
The towering yet graceful centre-forward simply kicked on from there and went on to take the Premier League by storm, bagging an impressive 17 goals, as well as 11 in European and domestic cups as the Red Devils lifted a League Cup and Europa League double, although injury cut Ibrahimovic’s impact short.
2017: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal)
Possibly the most bizarre entrant on this list, Kolasinac is the only defender to score on his debut in the Community Shield during the Premier League era. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international joined Wenger’s side in 2017, a season in which the curtain came down on the Frenchman’s 22-year stint at the helm. And he proved that Wenger still had what it takes to pull off a bit of ingenuity in the market.
Brought in on a free transfer, Kolasinac made a fast start to his Arsenal career, scoring a late equaliser against Chelsea in the Community Shield to force penalties, which the Gunners subsequently went on to win. It was a bittersweet season for Arsenal as they reached the Europa League semi-final, but bid farewell to Wenger having placed sixth in the Premier League.
Kolasinac largely blew hot and cold, and is yet to really take off in an Arsenal shirt, which may never happen now with the recent emergence of Kieran Tierney.