Community Shield Match Preview: Manchester City v Arsenal


As the 2014/2015 Premier League season is nearly upon us (hallelujah!, blessed be!), the annual curtain raiser to club football heaven that is the Community Shield takes place this Sunday at Wembley against league champions Manchester City and FA Cup winners Arsenal.

After another successful-ish season at the Emirates which culminated in Arsenal putting an end to their trophy drought, Arsene Wenger leads his reinforced Gunners in a stroll down the way to clash against Manuel Pellegrini’s confident yet weakened side.

City train this week ahead of Sunday’s clash with Arsenal – captain Vincent Kompany (center) is one of eight first-team players unavailable for selection

In his press conference leading up to Sunday’s anticipated clash, Pellegrini discussed his selection issues;

"“All the players that have arrived on Monday will not be ready to play on Sunday.  These players have had a special pre-season for this week and it will continue into next week.”"

With Frank Lampard only recently joining up with his new club after completing his loan move from NYC FC for the season, the England midfielder will also be unavailable for selection.  All told, Lampard, captain Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Bacary Sagna will all be unavailable for selection against the Gunners.

Alexis Sanchez looks set to be unleashed on the Premier League this Sunday, with City a tough first test for the new man

While his side is nearly fully available, Arsene Wenger will still be without Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski as the Gunners Germans are still being given rest after their long and successful Brazilian excursion this summer.  Wenger will however be able to call upon all of his summer signings, and Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy are likely to make their first official appearance for the club.

"Projected Starting XI’sArsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy; Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey; Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Olivier GiroudManchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Alexandre Kolarov, Matija Nastasic, Micah Richards, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Fernando; Samir Nasri, David Silva, Jesus Navas; Edin Dzeko"

Despite missing a wealth of talent through injury or lack of fitness, Pellegrini still has the ability to field a very dangerous XI, something that Wenger will no doubt still take stock of.  With Calum Chambers set to partner Laurent Koscielny at the back, the pair will have to form an understanding with each other instantly if they are to effectively deal with Edin Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic.  Yaya Toure could well be set to run riot in midfield if Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey cannot keep him under wraps, especially if Santi Cazorla features in the Arsenal XI, with his inability to track back and help defend.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Gunners however, with Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (should he feature) bringing pace and direct football against City’s second-string back four. Olivier Giroud could have a much easier time as well, only having to deal with Matija Nastasic and Dedryck Boyata (or Karim Rekik) rather than Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis.

Yaya Toure will offer up a perfect test for the Gunners; his dominance in midfield will benchmark whether Arsenal’s transfer business this summer i done or will be set to continue

With Arsenal integrating new signings and the potential distraction of upcoming their upcoming Champions League third-round qualifying tie with Turkish side Besiktas, this is a good a time as any for Arsene Wenger to take stock of his options at the club.  The challenge City will pose in midfield will be the ideal test to see if he needs additional signings before the window slams shut, with the club still linked to numerous signings.

City on the other hand, will still look to kick-start their domestic campaign the right way despite their selection concerns.  With Manuel Pellegrini looking to guide his troops to their third league title in four seasons (and his second at the club), the Chilean headmaster surely wants to get off on the right foot;

"“It’s not a friendly match.  It is an important game against an important team in Arsenal.  I think it will be a very good game.  It is important for both teams to win it so we will try to do it."

With both Pellegrini and Wenger set to take on a four-front campaign this season, what better way that an early trophy to place in the cabinet.  For Arsenal, early silverware (and against City no less) will help build confidence in the side, especially amongst the new signings.  For City, a win against a fellow title hopeful will be the perfect building block for the club under Pellegrini in his second season in charge.

"Match PredictionDespite missing eight first team players, I think City will still have enough in the tank to pull this one out.  While there will be questions asked at the back, their dominant midfield through Toure and Fernando (or even Milner if he gets the nod) will hit Arsenal where it continues to hurt them.  Calum Chambers has done quite well in pre-season, but coming up against a fit Edin Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic will be a tough task for the youngster, especially with the potential of lackluster defensive cover in midfield.  Arsenal will also have to integrate Alexis Sanchez in into the attack; his showings in pre-season, while encouraging, showed that the Gunners attack is not on the same page yet.  For me, 2-1 City in a very entertaining 90minutes of football."