The traditional curtain-raiser to the English Premier League Season, the FA Community Shield comes up on Sunday with two of English football’s big-spending giants going head-to-head. The Community Shield is played between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners but Sunday’s clash has got another twist to it with Chelsea being the reigning European champions too. Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea have a completely new look after their extravagant summer spending spree while Roberto Mancini has struggled to add players to his squad.
With London’s Wembley stadium still busy with Olympic football matches, the Villa Park has a chance in the spotlight this weekend.
Sunday’s closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics could threaten to overshadow this fixture but for football addicts who have waited for the start of the football season all summer, it means little that both events happen to be taking place this same day.
Form Guide: WWLWW
30th Jul, 2012: Malaysian Super League All Stars 1-3 Man City
27th Jul, 2012: Arsenal 0-2 Man City
31st Jul, 2012: Oldham 2-1 Man City
4th Aug, 2012: Wolfsburg 0-2 Man City
5th Aug, 2012: Limerick 0-4 Man City
Manchester City have had a relatively good Pre-season training. They have played seven fixtures in all, winning the last five and look all set to defend their Premier League crown. Roberto Mancini’s men featured in last season’s Community Shield, losing 3-2 to Manchester United, they will of course be looking to right the wrongs this time around when they come up against Chelsea.
Roberto Mancini has tried many formations during City’s Pre-season matches without giving anything away regarding what his first-choice eleven would look like but the Italian has always been pragmatic with his tactics in the big matches and I expect his tested and trusted 4-2-3-1 formation to be applied on Sunday.
Manchester City will be without the services of David Silva and Mario Balotelli as they have been given extended leave after their involvement in the European Championships. Captain Vincent Kompany is unlikely to feature in this match as he’s down with a Calf injury so Kolo Toure will probably take his place. Gareth Barry is injured and so will sit this one out too. Micah Richards involvement with Great Britain at the Olympics rules him out of this fixture, therefore Pablo Zabaleta will start at right-back.
Possible Starting-XI: Hart; Zabaleta, K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov; Y Toure, De Jong; A Johnson, Tevez, Nasri; Aguero.
Form Guide: WDLLL
19th Jul, 2012: Seattle Sounders 2-4 Chelsea
23rd Jul, 2012: Chelsea 1-1 PSG
26th Jul, 2012: MSL All Stars 3-2 Chelsea
29th Jul, 2012: Chelsea 0-1 AC Milan
4th Aug, 2012: Brighton 3-1 Chelsea
With Didier Drogba exiting the club at the end of last season and young talents in the mould of Hazard, Marin and Oscar drafted in, it’s now left to Roberto Di Matteo to point a direction for the club. The Italian won two trophies and a permanent deal at the end of last season after allowing his senior players take centre-stage; this time around, all eyes are on him to successfully help Chelsea get through this period of transition.
On the basis of Roberto Di Matteo’s many formations and tactics during Chelsea’s Pre-season matches, it seems more like their summer acquisitions have brought more questions than answers. The Italian will be hopeful of an improvement from their last three Pre-season defeats when they file out at Villa Park on Sunday.
With Chelsea going through a period of transition, winning the Community Shield against the Premier League holders will send a strong message to their rivals and would serve as a perfect start to a campaign that could see them win as many as six trophies.
Eden Hazard is expected to start for Chelsea on the left. Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu might sit this one out owing to their involvement with Spain at the London Olympics. Marko Marin will have to wait for his Chelsea debut as he’s not fit to play in this one. The Chelsea starting-eleven would probably be the same as the one that started against Brighton in their last Pre-season fixture. Fernando Torres needs to hit the ground up and running this season in order to improve his confidence and what better match to announce his re-birth. Romelu Lukaku will most probably start from the Bench.
Possible Starting-XI: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel; Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Hazard; Torres.
All eyes will be on Chelsea’s new signings as they begin their English sojourn. City have form on their side and that is a big plus in a game of this nature where fitness is the main focus for the managers.
This match is certainly Manchester City’s to lose. The jury is still out on the Chelsea squad and how fast they can understand each other. Chelsea might be the reigning European Champions, but they go in as underdogs against the English champions, especially on the back of their discouraging pre-season form. Manchester City have a very settled squad, with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure looking to pick up right where they stopped last season.
I don’t think Chelsea will get any luck in this one and I fully expect Manchester City to win their fourth Community Shield.
The last time Villa Park hosted the Community Shield final was back in 1972 and guess who won then? Manchester City!
If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the winner will be decided on penalties. No extra time will be played.
Prediction: Manchester City 3 – 1 Chelsea
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And that’s it for the first article this new English football season. I’m so ecstatic… To think the 2012-13 English Premier League kicks-off in just over seven days… On the basis of last season’s exciting and captivating Premier League season, we’re definitely in for an even better campaign this time around.
Till next time, Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.