Back for the new season, our regular pre-match briefing is split in two. Here is the first part as we prepare for another shot at silverware…
As the Gershwins put it, long ago, the song of Munich is ended but the melody lingers on. With that in mind, we now embark on supporting a Chelsea that, first among its London peers, have been crowned the kings of Europe.
Draw strength that, when disappointment or heartbreak visit in the future, they can’t take that away from us. Pre-Munich, and in other circumstances, a poor set of pre-season results might have caused more consternation.
At 1.30 on Sunday at Villa Park we contest the first of seven trophies over the 2012/13 campaign. Three we would have entered anyway; the rest – the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup, Fifa Club World Cup, and this weekend’s showpiece – we qualified for purely by winning the Champions League or FA Cup.
Three of the last five Community Shields have been won on penalties.
The last time Chelsea earned a place in this showpiece as a result of winning the cup, not the league, was in 2009, when champions Manchester United were beaten 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw. The Blues went on to win the double under Carlo Ancelotti that season.
The result of Chelsea’s four other recent appearances in this showcase match have proved similarly portentous in the ensuing league contest.
Defeat by United in 2007 and 2010, and Liverpool in 2006, was followed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s men winning the title. When Chelsea beat Arsenal in 2005, however, José Mourinho went on to steer the Blues to back-to-back success in the Premier League.
Of course, that could well be coincidence rather than the suggestion of any impact the Shield result has over the rest of the football calendar.
In most years the FA Cup alone would have been a beautiful climax to the season, even though we have won it in four of the last six seasons. Last May, as in 2010, the Double season, our FA Cup final victory over Liverpool (not to mention beating Spurs 5-1 to get there) has been almost upstaged by the massive achievement of becoming Europe’s finest.
Whatever the benefits yielded from cup wins, there is no doubt the club will be looking for a vast improvement on last season’s sixth place finish.
Some exciting new faces have arrived as great servants moved on. Skilful Belgian Eden Hazard arrives from Lille with ringing endorsement of former Blue Joe Cole, and the title ‘Europe’s hottest property’. His preseason performances have already whetted the appetite.
Winger Marko Marin has shown flashes of the trickery that made him one of Germany’s highest-rated youngsters.
We also have a new number 11 to hail following Didier Drogba’s heroic adieu. The new man in the shirt, Oscar, has started auspiciously this week, becoming Chelsea’s first Olympic finalist since Vivian John ‘Jack’ Woodward in 1912. (Great Britain skipper Woodward defeated his future Pensioners teammate Nils Middelboe’s Denmark side 4-2 in the Stockholm final.)
Should the versatile young Brazilian prove even half the inspiration the acclaimed centre-forward was at Stamford Bridge, fans are in for a treat.
The last 10 FA Community Shields
If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the winner will be decided on penalties. No extra time will be played.
Don’t forget to click the tab at the top for more. There will be more from the Briefing tomorrow when we look at the Technical Brief and Stats Corner.