Manchester City vs Chelsea
FA Community Shield
Wembley Stadium, London
10 AM ET, August 5,2018, Sunday
Line: Chelsea +135 Manchester City +120
FREE FA Community Shield Pick Manchester City vs Chelsea
For some it is a grand season opener. For some it is just another pre-season friendly. However, when the Community Shield is around the corner, it is a confirmation that the new season is upon us- that’s enough reason to get your blood pumping in excitement. This year’s Community shield will see two clubs in blue- Manchester City lock horns against Chelsea. These two clubs are the most storied clubs in the past few months, one for its incredible 100 point season while the other for the mix of highs and lows off the pitch.
It had been a summer of conflict and confusion for Chelsea before the announcement of Maurizio Sarri’s arrival at the Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte signed off in fashion leading Chelsea to a FA Cup victory last season, which should have been enough to guarantee his stay at the club, but Roman Abramovich had other plans. Chelsea’s poor title defence and a sluggish campaign allowed Abramovich to exercise his power and sacked Conte. Sarri took over and brought some stability and a sense of rejuvenation, announcing the signing of Jorginho- a long time Manchester City target. Chelsea ONE Manchester City ZERO. The London based club has had a disturbing summer with their stars Eden Hazard, Willian and Thibaut Courtois continuously linked with a move away from the Stamford Bridge. A lot will depend on how Sarri shapes up the team. Sarri’s closest Premier League comparison is Pep Guardiola, who showered the Italian with praise when Manchester City took on Napoli in the Champions League last season. Like the Catalan, Sarri plays with a high line, presses aggressively as soon as possession is lost, dominates the ball and looks to play attacking, adventurous, progressive pass-and-move football. When it comes off, the football played looks more like a video game than real life. Napoli’s combination of short, quick passes and forward thrust saw rise to the term ‘Sarri-ball’ to describe the way they play; imagine tiki-taka but with an emphasis on moving the ball forward rather than side-to-side. It’s not possession for the sake of possession, but with constant intent. If Sarri-ball materializes Chelsea are going to see one of the biggest transformations in recent years. Chelsea will be without Hazard, Courtois, Giroud and N’Golo Kante as these World Cup superstars enjoy their extended holiday. On the field, Chelsea have enjoyed a decent enough pre-season to date, seeing off Perth Glory 1-0 in Australia before returning to Europe and playing out a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan. Sarri notably used a 4-3-3 formation in both games. Then came a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in midweek – a match that the Blues dominated for the opening 30 minutes, only to then cede too much possession and eventually find themselves pegged back at the very death, before losing on penalties. If Chelsea are to break Man City they will have to cut down the passing and press as high as possible, which will frustrate the City Players and cause a lapse in concentration. This is a kind of pseudo test for Sarri and conclusions will be drawn whether Sarriball will prevail in the Premier League, depending on today’s performance.
Much is expected from Manchester City after their record breaking Premier League season. The Citizens finished a mammoth 19 points ahead of their closest and city rivals Manchester United. Pep Guardiola weaved his style of Football in England and Oh boy! He did it in some style. Surprisingly, this season’s transfer business has been a low-key affair for Manchester City with Riyad Mahrez the only senior arrival at the Etihad. City acquired his services for a sum of 60 million Euros and if reports are to be believed Pep isn’t going to enhance his squad depth with new signings this window. As has been the case for many of the top-flight big boys, City have not exactly been able to flex their muscles in pre-season. With a number of their star men only just returning to training in a World Cup summer, Guardiola has had to rely heavily on his younger players, many of whom will be restricted to cup appearances when the real business begins. Defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in the United States would not have exactly concerned the City boss, then, and the English champions did end their tour on a high with a 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich. The certain absence of roaring Raheem Sterling, Crafty Kevin De Bruyne will hurt Man City. Return of Sergio Aguero and skipper Vincent Kompany will be a big boost to the team. Most senior players are back in the training and one can expect a strong eleven by Guardiola. The Catalan has been a longtime admirer of Italian Maurizio Sarri and was full of praises when he came in the Premier League. City will continue to play their possession based style of play and cause damage to their opponents. The two coaches have so much in contrast that it is difficult to say which team will dominate the ball. The only point of difference one can see is Guardiola favors a side to side passing during the build-up whereas Sarri uses the wings in the final third and concentrates the build-up to the centre. It is said that in every game, Guardiola picks up his avatar- the player whose job is to keep the play moving. David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho have done this job and Pep will once again look to his midfielders to get the job done. Manchester City’s defense is paramount and the defensive organization is the key to building up attacks. Building from the back is a long time philosophy of Guardiola and he has injected this style in Man City which has resulted in unimaginable results. The Community Shield presents supporters with a chance to formulate predictions for the season ahead, but in City’s case it is probably best to wait until a few weeks in – when their starting lineup looks more familiar to the one that stormed to the title – before coming to any conclusions.
Chelsea: Alvaro Morata. Morata has had a substandard previous season and failed to live upto his 60 million Euro fee. Touted as a successor to Diego Costa, Morata wasn’t even a fraction of his countryman’s ability. This season he will be looking to make his mark and impress new boss Sarri with a dominant display in the Community shield. Morata is strong in the air which will allow the Chelsea wingers to toss the ball in the air and wait for Morata to finish.
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero. Aguero’s World Cup ended in sorrow and anguish with the Messi led Argentina crashing in the round of 16. Aguero has been central to Guardiola’s plans despite injury worries. The Argentine is a power pact striker blessed with innovation and skill. He is said to be a killer in the box and can send any Goalkeeper for a trip to hell.
Chelsea: Jorginho. The bruises of Jorginho dumping Manchester City and joining Chelsea are still fresh in the mind of City fans. Guardiola knows he has lost a quality player and this player could very well be the difference between the two sides today. Jorginho can play at a number of positions. He is suited to be a constructor and most of Chelsea’s attack will pass through him.
Manchester City: David Silva. Silva was vital to City last season and will continue to play the fundamental role once again. The Spainard’s composed style and sharp footwork along with his outstanding game reading skills make him lethal as ever. Despite David Silva reaching his twilight years he has defied the odds of age and flourished under Guardiola.
The Young Gun:
Chelsea: Callum Hudson-Odoi. Hudson-Odoi has taken the Chelsea pre-season by storm. The 17 year old has impressed Sarri and the stakes of Odoi starting the game are extremely high. The teenage sensation uses trickery and pace to exploit the opposition defence and the fact that Man City plays a high back line can cause problems.
Manchester City: Leroy Sane. Sane’s exclusion from the Germany World Cup squad was one of the biggest shocks of the season- that meant Sane would get a lot of time to excel and improve his already lavish performances. Sane’s thunderous speed bonded with his fleet foots has gathered admirers all over the World.
FREE FA Community Shield Pick Chelsea vs Manchester City
Expect Chelsea to win this cagey affair due to the fact that many senior Man City players are enjoying holidays and soaking in sun. Similar playing styles of both teams will lead to a close tussle and match go very well go to penalties. Chelsea have had a better pre-season compared to Man City. Chelsea are embarking on a new journey- The Sarri era. Sarri’s tenure will depend a lot on how he plays against the Big Six and performs domestically.