The Community Shield is the traditional curtain-raiser when it comes to the new football season, with the Premier League champions and FA Cup winner clashing at Wembley Stadium in front of a packed house.
While this match has diminished in recent years, it’s still a grand spectacle and usually a chance to watch two high-profile teams and see how they are shaping up ahead of the new campaign.
Manchester City are likely to have a youthful look about them, especially when you consider Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Vincent Kompany were among the players returning late after the 2018 World Cup.
Indeed, Pep Guardiola won’t regard this match with any sort of significance ahead of a season where the Spaniard will hope to establish a legacy at the Etihad Stadium, with the Citizens having won the Premier League title at a canter.
City Strong Favourites
It hasn’t stopped the best bookmakers from making City strong favourites to win this clash, although team news should be strongly considered for a match like this along with the motivation to actually win the game.
Leroy Sane isn’t certainly lacking motivation considering that the German was surprisingly omitted from his national team’s World Cup squad and last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year will look forward to stretching his legs on the Wembley turf.
This is also a game where many City fans will get a first glimpse of Riyad Mahrez, with the Algerian having completed a £60 million move from Leicester in the summer and he’ll be out to stake a claim for a place on the right flank of this illustrious team.
While City’s first team would merit being odds-on if this were the FA Cup final, the Community Shield is not really on the radar of Pep Guardiola and the same applies to Maurizio Sarri.
The Italian has just taken charge at Chelsea and will be eager to see how his team are shaping up for the 2018/19 season, although he’s also missing key players who featured at the business end of the 2018 World Cup.
Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Thibaut Courtois will be nowhere to be seen and it’s possible that the Belgian keeper has played his final game for the Blues considering the interest that Real Madrid are showing in the lanky stopper.
Morata and Willian Could Still Move On
It will also be interesting to see whether there’s a Chelsea future for Alvaro Morata and Willian, with the latter being the subject of interest from Barcelona, although Sarri will want to retain as many squad players as possible – even if the odds on Courtois’ move to Real Madrid get closer with every passing day.
Rather than consider who will win the match, it might be worth looking at alternative markets such as Total Goals at Paddy Power if you’re expecting the net to bulge at both ends. Alternatively, you might see this match as a potentially cagey encounter played at a pedestrian pace considering it’s nothing more than a glorified warm-up.
Sarri is picking up the pieces left by Antonio Conte and will hope over time to build a team in his own image, with the former Napoli coach having famously devised any number of training routines that focus on set pieces.
Getting buy-in from a notoriously tetchy Chelsea dressing room should be interesting and perhaps City will demonstrate that they are that much more of a team right now over the ninety minutes.