Mikel Arteta claimed Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is close to signing a new contract after the Gunners beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the Community Shield on Saturday.
Aubameyang put Arteta’s side ahead in the first half at Wembley with a typically eye-catching strike.
Japan’s Takumi Minamino equalised with his first goal for Liverpool late in the second half of the annual pre-season friendly between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners.
In the shoot-out, Liverpool’s young striker Rhian Brewster was the only player to miss, hitting the bar with their third penalty before Aubameyang calmly dispatched the decisive spot-kick.
As if Arteta needed any reminding, it was another sign of the influence wielded by his captain Aubameyang, who is yet to commit his long-term future to the club as he enters the final year of his contract.
Gabon forward Aubameyang has kept Arsenal waiting nervously during protracted talks and he demurred when asked in a post-match interview if he was ready to sign the club’s contract offer.
“We are going to see, today we will just take the trophy and that is it,” he said.
Arteta has remained confident the 31-year-old will stay and he insisted his talisman’s status will be resolved to his satisfaction before the Premier League season starts on September 12.
“We are close,” Arteta said of the contract. “He was magnificent in the FA Cup final and again today.
“I try do my job, which is convince him that he is in the right place, that he has the environment here to produce the moments like he’s done today and he’s done here three weeks ago.
“I am very positive that he’s going to sign but a lot of time there’s a lot of things involved in a contract deal and we are trying to show him.”
For Liverpool, it was the second successive season they have lost the Community Shield on penalties after being beaten by Manchester City last term.
That is unlikely to concern coach Jurgen Klopp too much given the champions’ lack of rest and preparation since winning the title for the first time in 30 years.
“For these type of games you need the final punch. We created enough, had the ball quite a lot, but had to be careful of their counter-attack,” Klopp said.
“A penalty shoot-out is always a little bit of a lottery and we were unlucky there, so congratulations to Arsenal.”
The Community Shield traditionally serves as the curtain-raiser to the new English season.
But Liverpool and Arsenal were back in action just 34 days after the end of the coronavirus-delayed Premier League campaign and only six days after the Champions League final concluded the entire 2019-20 season.