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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 August, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Curtain-raiser no guide to form
By Stuart Roach

Community Shield form guide
Shield result Premiership finish
1992-93 Leeds 4-3 Liverpool 17th and 6th
1993-94 Man U 1-1 Arsenal 1st and 4th
1994-95 Man U 2-0 B'burn 2nd and 1st
1995-96 Everton 1-0 B'burn 6th and 7th
1996-97 Man U 4-0 N'castle 1st and 2nd
1997-98 Man U 1-1 Chelsea 2nd and 4th
1998-99 Arsenal 3-0 Man U 2nd and 1st
1999-00 Arsenal 2-1 Man U 2nd and 1st
2000-01 Chelsea 2-0 Man U 6th and 1st
2001-02 Liverpool 2-1 Man U 2nd and 3rd
2002-03 Arsenal 1-0 L'pool 2nd and 4th
2003-04 Man U 1-1 Arsenal

It is doubtful whether Community Shield losers Arsenal will be losing much sleep ahead of the new Premiership season.

As a form guide, the traditional pre-season curtain raiser is about as reliable as tossing a coin.

Since the birth of the Premiership, Manchester United - who beat Arsenal on penalties in Cardiff on Sunday - are the only team to win the league having kicked off with a Shield triumph.

In fact, during the glorified friendly's entire 95-year history, only five teams have followed Shield success with a league title.

And there may even be grounds to claim that losing the Shield actually takes the pressure off the following season.

Manchester United lost four successive Charity Shields from 1998 and 2001 and on all but the final occasion went on to win the title.

And Blackburn's 1994 defeat to United at Wembley gave little indication of the Rovers glory year that was to follow.

In recent years, some of the greatest rivalries in the Premiership - Liverpool and Everton, Manchester United and Liverpool and Arsenal and Spurs - have been forced to swallow their pride and share the Shield, one club begrudgingly passing the silverware on after a six-month ownership.

1948: Arsenal 4-3 Man Utd
1993: Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal
(Man Utd won on penalties)
1998: Arsenal 3-0 Man Utd
1999: Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd
2003: Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal
(Man Utd won on penalties)
Yet the emphasis on the game remains on pre-season preparation rather than a chance for glory.

To Sir Alex Ferguson, the tour matches in the United States were probably more important than Sunday's win over Arsenal, though the Gunners would have seen it as their most high-profile friendly so far.

The Shield is traditionally more about welcoming in the new season with a fanfare, though the trumpet chorus can often be somewhat muted.

Few Shield matches have caught the public's imagination, with the notable exception of matches involving Leeds and Liverpool, it would appear.

Leeds' thrilling 4-3 win over Liverpool marked the dawn of football's new Premiership era in 1992 and the first Charity Shield to be played at Wembley in 1974 was punctuated by Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan famously receiving their marching orders for fighting.

That proved a little controversy can go a long way to livening up a pre-season encounter, but preconceived attempts to drill a competitive edge into the game have rarely lit up the occasion.

In 1959, the largely informal showcase was switched from and end-of-season warm-down to a pre-season curtain raiser and, more recently, penalties were used to decide drawn games.

Manchester United will delight in that particular innovation, having now won three times on penalties.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side beat Chelsea in 1997 and Sunday's win in Cardiff was a repeat of the first-ever Charity Shield shoot-out when the Red Devils defeated Arsenal 10 seasons ago.

That game was decided when Peter Schmeichel saved a sudden-death penalty lamely taken by his fellow goalkeeper David Seaman, a freeze-frame in time that proves the spectacle of the day is more important than the result.

Before Sunday, that was the last time United defeated Arsenal in the season opener, the Gunners winning the next two meetings in 1998 and 1999.

Yet, come the end of the season, United fans had the last laugh on all three occasions - and Arsenal will be keen to esnure Sunday's form book is quickly rewritten.

Will Man Utd's win have any bearing on the title race?
10193 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


MANCHESTER UTD 1-1 ARSENAL (Man Utd win 4-3 on pens)



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