As Arsenal waited to collect the
Community Shield at Wembley,
Antonio Conte wandered about,
arms folded and head down, with
the look of a very bemused man.
How did his team lose his game?
Why did his goalkeeper take his
team’s second penalty in the shootout?
How did his expensive and
shiny new striker miss the target
completely from 12 yards? And
just what is an ABBA shoot-out
As Conte pondered all this and
doubtless much more, Arsenal
collected the season’s first piece
of silverware. Arsene Wenger’s
team came from behind to draw
and then won the strange penalty
competition that followed by four
goals to one. It wasn’t the fact that
Chelsea lost the shoot-out that
really mattered, it was the manner
in which they lost it.
The ABBA system is new and will
take some getting used to. The best
way to explain it is that it works
like a tennis tie-break. One shot to
team A, followed by two for team
B, two for A and so on. The idea is
to prevent the team going second
having to deal with the pressure of
At times here the players didn’t
look totally convinced about who’s
turn it was, players on occasion
being tentatively shoved forwards
like nervous teenagers inching
towards a youth club dance floor,
but that still didn’t excuse the
peculiar way that Conte and his
players went about the business of
trying to win it.
It was strange enough to see
a central defender, Gary Cahill,
go first. After he scored and two
Arsenal players, Theo Walcott
and Nacho Monreal, converted
successive kicks, Chelsea selfsacrificed
in spectacular style.