With Euro 2012 and the Olympics, it hardly feels as though football has been away does it? Believe it or not, the Community Shield on Sunday is the prelude to the return of the Premiership the following week! Manchester City play European Champions Chelsea in the traditional curtain raiser to the new season and the game could provide some clues as to whether or not the London side have closed the gap from last season.
Manchester City eventually prevailed on goal difference following their thrilling final game victory over QPR, depriving Manchester United in the process. Chelsea’s Premiership aspirations had long since disappeared, followed by their manager Andre Villas-Boas. Redemption came in the form of Roberto Di Matteo who somehow galvanised the team to lift the FA Cup and the Champions League with Didier Drogba’s spot kick bringing the end to a hugely entertaining season.
Perhaps surprisingly, Roberto Mancini has failed to add to his Championship winning side whilst Chelsea have scarcely been out of the news all summer. Their Champions League triumph made it inevitable that Di Matteo would secure the managerial role on a permanent basis and Drogba’s departure was equally predictable. He could not have left on a higher note than taking the Blues to the one trophy that had eluded them in the Abramovich era but his boots are going to be difficult to fill. Fernando Torres toiled in vain last season to cement a regular place in the starting line up, having to be content with cameo roles in their Cup victories. He now has his chance to lead a Chelsea attack that has also lost Salomon Kalou.
Chelsea’s new signings Eden Hazard and Marko Marin have been eclipsed by the capture of Brazilian star Oscar. He is still on Olympics duty for Brazil but Hazard has put in some promising performances in a pre-season that has seen Chelsea slump to three defeats. With the Blues apparently still chasing a right-back to replace Bosingwa and another striker, they are very much a team in the middle of a rebuilding process. City, meanwhile, appear content with the powerhouse squad that dominated the Premier League until the closing stages last season.
The Community Shield is not the most fiercely sought-after trophy, but it is a trophy nonetheless and both sides will be giving it plenty of respect. Ladbrokes believe City have the edge and have them as 6-5 favourites with Chelsea at 15-8 and 9-4 the draw. City are 15-2 to emerge as 2-1 winners with Chelsea at 9-1 to return winners by the same scoreline. Di Matteo has yet to lose a Cup match since taking charge at Stamford Bridge but Mancini will be hoping to change that on Sunday.
Author Profile: Harvey Mayson+