Arsene Wenger spoke of his relief after Arsenal defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley to seal victory in the Community Shield.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 24th-minute strike proved decisive as last season’s FA Cup winners secured 2015-16’s first silverware and a psychological blow over the defending Premier League champions.
Neither side hit top form ahead of the new season but Arsenal’s solid showing and Wenger’s first win over rival manager Jose Mourinho in 14 games will give their supporters confidence of a sustained title challenge.
“Physically we suffered and the pitch was not great,” Wenger told BT Sport after the match. “We went 1-0 up and perhaps we did a little too much to protect our lead - but we absolutely wanted to win.
“When we got out of our defence we looked dangerous to score but we played a little too much in our half. We played with the handbrake on at times - maybe we had a little Chelsea complex.”
A clean sheet for Petr Cech on his Arsenal debut was a boost for Wenger, who pointed to the defensive progress his side continue to make, while he suggested Theo Walcott would be in line for further opportunities in a central role after he was preferred to Olivier Giroud in attack on Sunday.
“In the second half of the season last year we conceded 13 goals in 19 games so we had already improved our defensive record, hopefully we can do it again," he added.
“Pre-season has gone quite well, we are continuing from where we were last season. No big injuries too, except Wilshere who we lost to injury last season and Alexis is back tomorrow [Monday] so that is good.
“Walcott? I want to use him there as well [up front and behind the striker] - it depends on the opposition.”
Defender Per Mertesacker felt the victory over their title rivals shows the quality of squad that is set to start the season at the Emirates Stadium.
“It's another win – we have had a decent pre-season so far,” said the German. “It is a little title for us that keeps our confidence high, so it's great for us," he said.
“It's still pre-season - it's a little beginner [trophy], let's say it like that. Everyone dug in, absolutely. Cech has so much experience and gives us a huge boost for the season.
“Title contenders? We will try our best and when Alexis is back we will have a great squad.”