Chelsea v Man City preview

The Community Shield traditionally marks the start of the English football season and, while this year’s game risks being overshadowed by the London Olympics, this promises to be a fascinating insight into what lies ahead.

Not only is Sunday’s clash at Villa Park between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners but Chelsea also double as the champions of Europe and after a summer of spending to make even City’s owners wince these two could be the teams contesting major honours come May.

Roberto Di Matteo won trophies – and a permanent deal – by putting his senior professionals centre-stage. But with Didier Drogba gone and young talent such as Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar coming in, now he must oversee the transition that Andre Villas-Boas could not.

If that change goes smoothly then the Blues will expect to close the gap on a Manchester City side that has been strangely subdued in thr transfer market since winning a first league title in 44 years in such sensational circumstances on the final day of last season.

No major signings have been made with the focus instead on new contracts for manager Roberto Mancini and inspirational skipper Vincent Kompany, who is a doubt for the game due to a pre-season calf injury.

After a period of startling upheaval at City, steady growth now appears to be the mantra coming out of the Etihad Stadium and with Carlos Tevez fully rehabilitated that policy could take the club further than they dare hope.

Team news

A number of players in both squads were involved at Euro 2012 and several more were on Olympic duty earlier this month, with Chelsea’s Oscar still contesting the medals with Brazil.

As a result, Mancini and Di Matteo have players at various stages of progression in their pre-season training programme and that will have a large bearing on the line-ups we see in Birmingham.

For the league champions, Gareth Barry is injured while David Silva and Mario Balotelli could be eased back after contesting the Euro 2012 final last month.

Micah Richards will not start after being involved for Great Britain at the Olympics so Pablo Zabaleta is set to continue where he left off as the first-choice right-back.

Chelsea are expected to name a strong defence given that John Terry and Ashley Cole have been rested by Roy Hodgson for the midweek friendly against Italy, with the main decision being a straight choice between David Luiz and Gary Cahill.

Hazard is likely to start on the left but former Werder Bremen man Marin looks set to miss out through injury.

Possible starting XIs

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel; Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Hazard; Torres.

Man City: Hart; Zabaleta, K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov; Y Toure, De Jong; A Johnson, Tevez, Nasri; Aguero.

Terry to miss Italy friendly

Terry is available for the friendly with Italy in Berne on 15th August despite being charged by the Football Association for directing racially abusive language towards Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road in October.

But Hodgson has decided to take a look at alternatives with Terry set to play for Chelsea against Manchester City in the Community Shield at Villa Park on Sunday.

In fact, Hodgson will not pick any of his back-four from Euro 2012, with Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott and Glen Johnson all being rested for the rematch with the team who eliminated them from that tournament at the quarter-final stage.

As a result, the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Kyle Walker can expect to be included, while Chelsea youngster Ryan Bertrand is likely to receive a first England call-up.

Captain Steven Gerrard is also set to be rested and with Scott Parker injured there could be opportunities for Jack Rodwell and Tom Cleverley.

Wayne Rooney is likely to captain the side in Gerrard’s absence as he is set to be retained in the squad after featuring just twice at Euro 2012.

The game is the last chance Hodgson will have to assess his players ahead of their opening World Cup qualifier in Moldova on 7th September.

Experiment

And assistant Gary Neville believes supporters should not expect too much from an experimental squad on the eve of the season.

“You have to consider what you want out of a game,” said Neville.

“We are at the end of pre-season, the league is just about to start and we have three days to prepare, so you are not going to get a perfect performance.

“Also I am not quite sure it will have an effect on the Moldova game.

“I played in a lot of England friendlies when the result wasn’t backed up in the competitive matches afterwards.

“What we need is a good quality performance to keep the momentum going.

“We are unbeaten so far in terms of normal football and are developing a squad that can take the country towards the World Cup.”

DI MATTEO: STRONG TEAM TRAVELLING

Roberto Di Matteo has only Marko Marin unavailable to face Manchester City in the Community Shield at Villa Park on Sunday.

The German international sat out last weekend’s friendly defeat at Brighton and is still not ready for action, but we can expect Chelsea returns for Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge, while Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand are also in contention, and Eden Hazard is expected to make his debut.

‘Everybody apart from Marko Marin is fit and available and I will select the final team tomorrow after the last training,’ said Di Matteo.

‘It’s certainly going to be a strong team, keeping in mind the stage where the players are, they are at different stages, but it will be a strong team.

‘There is always competition for places and I try to keep it as open as possible for people fighting for places. We’ve only had some of the players back this week from the Olympics and it will take a bit of time to find the right players in the right positions. We have a couple of new players but a lot of them have been here before and know each other.’

As Premier League champions, City are probably favourites for the game, and Di Matteo expects a tough challenge from Roberto Mancini’s men, believing they will be among the frontrunners once again in 2012/13.

‘Everybody will be chasing them. They have a good squad, a good team and when you are at the top it is hard to stay at the top,’ said the Italian. ‘There will be plenty of clubs trying to catch them up this season.

‘There was a big gap last season and that’s one of our challenges this season, to try and bridge it. Twenty-five points was a lot, and we have a tough season ahead trying to compete.

‘There are a lot of very good teams this season, it seems the Premier League is getting more balanced every year. They have a good squad and will be difficult to catch but that’s the job of all the other teams.

‘Traditionally this match doesn’t give a big clue to what kind of season you will have, but it will be competitive and both teams will want to win. But whoever wins doesn’t necessarily go on to win the Premier League or anything else [but] it’s always better to win. It’s a good feeling and the players know a win against Man City would be great and give us the right step into the Premier League.’

With Oscar yet to join up with the squad, Di Matteo believes we will have a formidable group once it begins to gel.

‘I watched him in the Olympics, before the Olympics, and he will certainly add a lot of quality to our team. He is still a young man and will be able to learn a lot from the players we have here, and the mentality of the players here,’ said the manager.

‘There are plenty of trophies to win this season and we have a very driven team and players who are never satisfied with what they have done in the past.’

Di Matteo also suggested he is still interested in adding to the squad, with a striker a possible priority, particularly given the likelihood of Romelu Lukaku departing on loan.

‘At this stage of his career the most important thing is to play. It might be a bit more difficult here with us so it’s the best choice to let him go out on loan,’ admitted the coach.

‘We are a little bit light in a couple of positions and we’ve got one or two young players who are interesting but we will see what is going to go on and see what happens when the market closes.’

Another player who has been linked with a move away is Daniel Sturridge, who was today called into the England squad. The player, Di Matteo says, remains firmly in his plans.

‘He is part of the squad, of the team, and still has a lot to give. He still has a lot to learn as well but we are hopeful he can develop even more and become a great player for us.

‘He did very well to recover from his illness in a short period of time. He is a very exciting player and it’s great for him to be involved in the England squad.

‘He has the ability to play in more than one position. He made it quite public he likes to play as a number nine but there is competition, which is good, and we will see as the season starts who is going to play.’

BERTRAND EARNS ENGLAND CALL-UP

Ryan Bertrand has earned his first call-up to the senior England squad for the friendly against Italy in Berne next week.

The young left-back, who represented Team GB at the London Olympics and has also captained the national side at Under 21 level, is one of four Chelsea players named in the squad by manager Roy Hodgson.

Bertrand impressed after being given a run in the side by Roberto Di Matteo towards the end of last season, culminating with a starting place in the side for the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich.

Daniel Sturridge, who made his senior international debut last November during a friendly against Sweden and was named on the standby list for Euro 2012, earns a recall after impressing during the Olympic campaign, scoring two goals, including the winner against Uruguay.

Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill, meanwhile, are both included in what is a relatively inexperienced squad after missing out on Euro 2012 having suffered injuries in the build-up to the tournament.

COMMUNITY SHIELD PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY

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.

 Chelsea lift Champions League


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.

Commshield

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.