The new English soccer season is starting in the same month the last one finished.
For Arsenal, in particular, the turnaround has been rapid.
In the final domestic match of the pandemic-prolonged 2019-20 campaign, Arsenal won the FA Cup by beating Chelsea 2-1 at an empty Wembley Stadium on Aug. 1.
And it’s at the national stadium — still without spectators — where Arsenal’s players return only four weeks later to play Liverpool in the Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser of the season between the winners of the Premier League and FA Cup.
“We are ready to go,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “We have no choice.”
Saying it is “not an ideal moment to play this final” is quite the understatement by Arteta, who reported Thursday that Arsenal has had two training sessions so far in what he called a “mini preseason.”
For the Spanish coach, it is just another example of how his team — and the rest of the Premier League — are heading into the unknown in an upcoming season that’s being squeezed by a month because of the extension of last season following the coronavirus outbreak.
“The COVID period was slow, and then full gas,” said Arteta, whose positive coronavirus test led to the Premier League being suspended in March. “You could see the injury rates and everything went crazy up. So we don’t know (what’s going to happen this season).