The first prize of the 2016/17 season is on the line this weekend when Premier League champions Leicester City take on FA Cup winners Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley (4pm Sunday, BT Sport 2).
Three months have now passed since Leicester clinched the top flight title, an extraordinary achievement that has gone down as one of the best in the history of the game. Claudio Ranieri’s (pictured) side will struggle to repeat the feat this term. Not only have the likes of Man Utd, Manchester City and Chelsea all strengthened significantly under the leadership of new managers, Leicester will also have Champions League football to contend with. They are unlikely to be so fortunate with a lack of injuries for a second year running.
Ball-winner supreme N’Golo Kante has departed for Chelsea, moreover, although Leicester have done well to keep hold of Arsenal target Jamie Vardy and, at the time of writing at least, Riyad Mahrez.
Papy Mendy, Ahmed Musa, Raul Uche, Luis Hernandez, Ron-Robert Zieler and Bartosz Kapustka have joined them at the King Power Stadium and will all hope to be involved this weekend as Ranieri continues to prepare his side for the season ahead. The Italian could be without Vardy, who is nursing a wrist injury, but otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from as Leicester embark on a rare trip to Wembley.
Man Utd have also been busy in the transfer market, acquiring Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly while also chasing Paul Pogba for most of the summer. Of even more significance is the fact that Jose Mourinho has replaced Louis van Gaal in the Old Trafford hot seat. The Portuguese will have designs on the Premier League title in his first season at the helm, despite the 20-time English champions’ lowly fifth-place finish in 2015/16. United were solid and resolute at the back under Van Gaal last term and should be again this time around, with their added firepower and new boss potentially set to make the difference. The Red Devils will not record such high possession figures in 2016/17 but it can be almost guaranteed that they will play with much greater purpose, incision and verticality after some rather plodding and pedestrian football last year.
United have struggled ever since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 but supporters are now hopeful that they finally have the right man in charge to bring trophies back to the Old Trafford cabinet on a regular basis.
Chris Smalling (groin), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (groin) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (calf) could miss out as United prepare to win the Community Shield outright for the 17th time in the club’s history.
Community Shield clashes can sometimes lack intensity and entertainment, which is understandable as the participants attempt to ease themselves in ahead of the Premier League season. That is likely to be the case again on Sunday afternoon, when both sets of players will probably be wary about over-exerting themselves in what is essentially a glorified friendly. There is still plenty of interest in what is Mourinho’s first semi-competitive game in charge of Manchester United and Leicester’s final preparation match before the defence of their title begins six days later.
Our Preview’s Community Shield Betting Tips Conclusion
Taking everything into account, it is probably worth backing United to triumph at Wembley, with the odds on a 2-0 scoreline making that wager look particularly tempting.
Another option is betting on under 2.5 goals to be netted in total. Defences will probably be on top this weekend, so a low-scoring encounter looks likely. Manchester United will probably prove too strong for the champions, though, especially if Ranieri is unable to call upon the services of Vardy.
So our Community Shield preview’s betting tips selections are: