Chelsea and Manchester United will face each other for the second successive year in the 88th FA Community Shield, the annual Premier League curtain raiser. The two teams also competed against each other in the 2007 match. Manchester United have won the trophy a record 15 times (albeit 4 of those were shared victories). Chelsea, who are the current holders, will look to add to their 4 wins.
In 2007, Manchester United won on penalties while Chelsea managed to turn that result around last season winning 4-1 on penalties. Most expect these two sides to be the Premier League title contenders again this season so it is interesting to look at their pre-season form as we try to decide on who, if either, has the momentum.
Chelsea’s pre-season has been slightly disappointing by their standards, The Blues have lost to Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg. They did secure a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace however. Manchester United on the other hand have recorded good wins over Celtic, Philadelphia Union, the MLS All-Stars and a League of Ireland XI who they beat 7-1. United did suffer losses to Kansas City Wizards and C.D. Guadalajara.
Having said all that… Pre-season form doesn’t always tell you very much as managers are giving new signings and young players plenty of game time. And let’s not forget that many of the World Cup players have only just rejoined the squads after missing most of those games. So perhaps both sides come into this clash with a ‘clean slate’ and will be looking to stomp some authority on the other.
Community Shield’s are seldom ‘classics’ but don’t be fooled into thinking they are meaningless. One thing both managers will be very keen to avoid is injuries to key players. And this is where the Wembley pitch may come into the equation. Many players have fallen foul of the poor surface at the home of the FA. The field’s thick, heavy grass and uneven surface is a disaster waiting to happen. Fingers crossed we don’t lose a Rooney or Lampard for a month because of a questionable tackle or a caught stud.
At the end of the day it is not so much about lifting the shield but more about bragging rights for the fans, a boost of confidence for the up-coming campaign and an opportunity to raise funds for various charities throughout England.