Chelsea and Manchester City square off in the English football season’s traditional curtain-raiser when they meet in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday (15:00 BST, live on BT Sport).
The Community Shield has been around in one guise or another since 1908 and currently pits the reigning Premier League champions against the holders of the FA Cup. This year, that formula has produced a potentially intriguing encounter between Man City and Chelsea.
Neither of the sides have a great record in the Community Shield. Chelsea have lost out on each of the last four occasions they have been involved in it, while City have also been defeated in two of their three appearances in recent times. But City’s one triumph came against Chelsea, in a 3-2 win in 2012, and they are again the favourites with the sports betting sites for Sunday’s clash.
Few teams have dominated the Premier League in the manner that Man City did last season. Pep Guardiola’s side not only finished a full 19 points clear of Manchester United in second, the biggest winning margin since the establishment of the new top flight in 1992, but also set a slew of other records, including most points, most goals and the longest-ever winning streak.
City pressed high, used possession as a tool for both control and incision, and simply overwhelmed the majority of their opponents with the potency of their attacking play. David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne devised plays, the pace Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling stretched defences, and Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus then provided the finishing touches.
Guardiola has admitted that it will be difficult to match those achievements in the new campaign, but City are still the favourites with the bookmakers to lift the Premier League trophy again. They will also hope to go further in the Champions League after falling to Liverpool at the quarter-final stage last season.
The club’s transfer activity this summer has been far more restrained than their near £300 million outlay last season, but they still spent around £60 million to bring in Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. It is otherwise a very settled squad, well versed in Guardiola’s approach and ready to benefit from that stability to take a further step forward this time around.
Stability is something that is rarely found over at Stamford Bridge, and it is no surprise that Chelsea enter the new season with a new coach in their dugout. The FA Cup triumph over Manchester United at Wembley in May acted as Antonio Conte’s farewell after two seasons in charge, and it is his fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri who has now taken the reins.
Sarri initially made his name in the lower leagues in Italy before an impressive debut season in Serie A with Empoli earned him the chance to coach Napoli. There, he produced successive second-place finishes with a bold attacking approach that led Guardiola to comment last season that Napoli were playing some of the best football in Europe.
The signing of defensive midfielder Jorginho, previously tracked by Man City, from Sarri’s former employers is a key building block towards establishing a similar style in West London, but it is nevertheless likely to take him some time to get Chelsea functioning at the level his Napoli side reached. As ever at Chelsea, the question is whether he will get it.
The result of Sunday’s match will have little bearing on how either side eventually views this season. Both had a number of players involved in the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia and with another week still to go before the start of the Premier League season, it is therefore unlikely that either will field a completely full-strength starting XI at Wembley.
City were clearly a better side than Chelsea last season, are far more familiar with the methods and requirements of their coach, and also won home (2-1) and away (4-2) to Sarri’s Napoli side during the group stage of last season’s Champions League. They can therefore be expected to begin their campaign by lifting the Community Shield.
Our Preview’s Chelsea vs. Man City Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Manchester City to win @ 11/10 with BetVictor.