This weekend marks the start to the English Premier League season with the traditional curtain raiser, the Community Shield. In truth it feels like there hasn’t really been a break from football as the European Championships and Olympic Games have served up a treat of high class football.
This Sunday at Villa Park, Premiership champions Manchester City play FA Cup winners Chelsea for the first piece of silverware of the 2012/2013 English domestic season. For both teams it is more about the performance that the result, but it is also about showing off their new signings and reassuring fans of the success to come in the season.
Manchester City, having won their first Premiership crown in over 40 years, will want to build from their triumph and create what they call a “dynasty”. This season will be far harder for the blue side of Manchester as every side in the division will be out to stop them, if they were not before they are now a marked side, and all other 19 teams will be vowing for their scalp. Not to mention how hard the chasing pack of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and especially their main rivals Manchester United will be trying. Manchester City have had a relatively quiet transfer period compared to recent times, as they seem to have pulled out the race to sign Arsenal Captain Robin Van Persie, for the moment at least.
Despite not making any marquee signings they have been able to successfully guarantee the signatures of two of their most influential leaders, Manager Roberto Mancini and Captain Vincent Kompany. Kompany’s new contract is six years and he is a vitally important component of their squad, not just on the field.
Chelsea have once again had a very busy off-season as they have looked to strengthen their squad ahead of a more successful campaign. Chelsea had a very indifferent 2011/2012 season, as they went from the sublime to the abysmal in cup and league competitions. In the league they could not seem to buy a win, and ended up finishing a lowly sixth, their worst performance since 2002. However with new manager Roberto Di Matteo at the helm at the end of the season, they looked unbeatable in knockout matches, and won both the FA Cup and Champions League despite being huge underdogs.
Chelsea’s most important question for the new season is how they will replace striker Didier Drogba, who has been their talisman since he start of the Abramovich era. Drogba has left for Shanghai and they have also lost Salomon Kalou, which has left them very light on strikers. This will put the pressure hugely on Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge. Torres who finally seemed to be back to somewhere near his best at the end of last season, will now be given a sustained run in the team, and he needs to step up.
Chelsea have signed Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard from Lille, after he was one of the standout players in the French league last season and Marko Marin has also signed from Werder Bremen. Their biggest signing of the summer is without doubt Oscar, the Brazilian midfielder, who will not be playing for Chelsea against City on Sunday as he is playing for Brazil the day before in the Olympic Final.
Man City v Chelsea Betting Tip
Both sides have injury concerns and players who have returned late to pre-season after the Euros, so neither side will be at full strength for the Community Shield. Gareth Barry and Kompany are likely to be out with injury and Balotelli and Silva are likely to be rested, and for Chelsea Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge are likely to be rested after their involvement in the Olympics.
For the last two seasons, all four matches have been won by the home team, with both last season’s matches ending 2-1 to the home team. Chelsea v Man City is always a close game and this will be nothing different. In the absence of Kompany, Balotella and Silva, Chelsea may just have the edge, especially with Torres and Hazard trying to prove themselves.