Silva proves the difference

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger may not have spent even a fraction of £30million on new signings this summer, but he did still manage to acquire a World Cup winner.

And in his first major outing since victory against Germany in Japan, Brazilian Gilberto Silva made the difference against Liverpool to add the Community Shield to his recent haul of silverware.

Silva was a rather more conservative £4.5million purchase from Atletico Mineiro as opposed to Rio Ferdinand's huge transfer fee, which Wenger had claimed was too high.

However, the midfielder still struck the winner with 22 minutes left after new team-mate Thierry Henry's finishing woes in Cardiff had continued, courtesy of Jerzy Dudek's fine reflexes.

For Arsenal, it was therefore another trophy to follow their double triumph last season and a statement of intent that they do not intend to give up their title without a battle.

Liverpool, meanwhile, had a handful of half-chances but even after Tony Adams' retirement, an Arsenal defence superbly led by Martin Keown and Sol Campbell was as resolute as ever.

Behind them, in his own first major appearance since a rather more forgettable ending to his World Cup finals, David Seaman was also back to his commanding best.

If either team are to lift the title, they must still finish above Manchester United, who failed to qualify for this pre-season event for the first time in seven years.

Then again, the fact that they had not only failed to win a trophy last season but also finished third is exactly the sort of motivation which makes them the team to beat yet again.

In Cardiff, neither Arsenal nor Liverpool were, understandably, willing to over-exert themselves in a patchy first-half.

Steven Gerrard expended three months' pent-up frustration at missing the World Cup in the first seven minutes, with one booking almost immediately nearly leading to a second as he flung himself recklessly into a series of tackles.

However, the early result of Liverpool's decision to field a three-pronged strikeforce including £10 million El Hadji Diouf seemed to be a lack of width and midfield domination by Arsenal.

Dudek still kept his side level, beating away Henry's drive before producing a top-class double save from Dennis Bergkamp, the second block from virtual point-blank range.

Yet once Gerrard had focused his commitment, he was - as ever - the player to inject a sense of urgency into his side.

A long-range pass sent skimming towards Michael Owen was instinctively returned into the path of Emile Heskey only for his shot to be blocked by Seaman at the near post.

John Arne Riise's free-kick was deflected wide, while Ray Parlour flashed a shot across the face of goal, but it was straight after the break that the clearest chance fell to Henry.

Despite being put clean through by Bergkamp, the Arsenal striker's frustrating recent finishing record in Cardiff nevertheless continued.

After missing several clear-cut chances in the past two FA Cup finals, his shot was deflected onto the post by Dudek, who also grasped another low shot by the Frenchman.

Owen, meanwhile, who had conversely struck twice against Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup final, missed his kick completely from Diouf's cut-back

Still the slight advantage was with Arsenal.

Their passing was snappier and their movement more direct. If only their finishing was as clinical for back came Liverpool with increasing authority.

Owen, for one, had by now come alive but two penalty claims went unheeded and finally Arsenal's pressure told.

Bergkamp was yet again the creator, catching the Liverpool defence square in reaching the byline before cutting the ball back for Silva - a half-time substitute for Edu - to thump his shot past Dudek.

Diouf went sprawling to the ground in search of a penalty only to earn the wrath of his friend, Vieira, rather than a spot-kick and, as he sent another shot spiralling over the bar,

Liverpool became increasingly desperate in the final stages and Arsenal duly prevailed.

Caution first, however. After all, the last time they followed a domestic double with a triumph in the Charity Shield in 1998, United went on to win the treble.

Copyright - Daily Mail

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