August 8, 2012

Chelsea vs Manchester City – Community Shield

The long-anticipated wait for English football to return to the competitive stage is almost over, with the Community Shield between Premier League champions Manchester City and FA Cup holders Chelsea a mouth-watering appetizer. Both these sides will have ambitions of further glory in the 2012-13 campaign, and will look to hit the ground running with victory here.

Chelsea had a remarkable turnaround in fortunes during 2011-12, with Roberto Di Matteo taking the reigns in March to lead the west Londoners to FA Cup glory and heroic Champions League success. The Italian coach has since been appointed on a permanent basis, with Russian owner Roman Abramovich investing highly in the squad.

Experienced campaigners such as Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa have left Stamford Bridge after expired contracts, and the Blues have wasted little time in strengthening their squad. The most exciting of their summer transfer business must be the additions of the exceptionally-talented Eden Hazard and Brazilian playmaker Oscar; the former should feature but the South American will not due to Olympics participation. Chelsea have also added Marko Marin and Kevin De Bruyne to their squad this summer.

Di Matteo is still in the market for a new right-back and a striker, and one feels that the side that steps out at Wembley on Sunday will not be the finished article that assaults the Premier League in 2012-13. That said, the London club will use the fixture as a way to start to integrate new faces into the existing structure, and hope to start the campaign with silverware.

Manchester City’s splurging in the transfer market paid off last term, as Roberto Mancini led the Citizens to a momentous first top-flight title in 44 years. In a breathtaking finale, an injury-time Sergio Aguero goal against QPR on the last day of the season clinched a 3-2 victory and the division crown on goal difference from fierce rivals Manchester United.

The Etihad Stadium side have not been their usual indulgent selves in the transfer market this summer however, and at the time of writing no new faces of note have been added to their star-studded squad. City have pursued Arsenal’s outgoing skipper Robin van Persie, but a deal for the Netherlands international looks to be languishing towards failure. Other targets include Daniel Agger, Scott Sinclair and a raft of European talent if the tabloids are to be believed.

However, Mancini has focussed on keeping his existing group together, and one of the biggest pluses for the team will be Vincent Kompany signing a new six-year contract extension this off-season. The core of the side will remain the same for this upcoming campaign, but expect a new face or two towards the end of the transfer window.

The English champions against the European champions, the battle of the two big spenders and two very serious candidates to top the pile come next May. City will look to continue where they carried off domestically last term, whilst Chelsea’s top priority now will be to get back into Premier League contention. Expect a stop-start game as these sides look to get back into the swing of things, and a lot of substitutions to give everyone a run out.

My Community Shield pick is a 2-1 win to Manchester City in this one, who will be the team to beat in the English domestic scene in 2012-13.

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