2018 FA Community Shield: Chelsea vs Manchester City – Lineups, Preview & Prediction

Viewed as another pre-season friendly or a genuine chance to win some silverware? The Community Shield can be divisive, but it’s a chance to begin on the right foot.

oliver stein by Oli Stein

Action Images via REUTERS/Paul Childs

15:00 BST, Sunday 5th August, Wembley Stadium (Wembley, England)

Premier League winners vs FA Cup winners. 100 points vs 70. Pep Guardiola vs Maurizio Sarri. That, in itself, makes for spectacular viewing. Two managers that pride themselves on their ability to coach possession-based football – comprising pressing, passing, pace and precision – Guardiola and Sarri butting heads is a case of real recognising real.

“They are one of the best teams I have ever faced,” the Spaniard said after the Citizens’ 2-1 Champions League victory against Napoli in October 2017. “It is impossible to beat them if you don’t make a good performance… I am pretty sure they are one of the best teams in Europe at this moment.”

The pair get to test themselves against one another once more, in a less pressurised environment than the Champions League would have been last year. For Sarri, it’s his first competitive match as Chelsea boss, and he’ll be keen to get off to a perfect start against the side everyone wants to beat.

Last Time Out

Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 6-5 on penalties) [International Champions Cup]

Petr Cech saved his first penalty in Arsenal colours as he denied Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a 6-5 penalty shootout win, after both sides scored their first five.

Sarri’s Chelsea dominated the first half of the game and Antonio Rudiger set the tone early on with a fifth minute header to put the Blues 1-0 in front. At the centre of this was youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Action Images via REUTERS/Paul Childs

The 17-year-old’s run set Cesc Fabregas up for a shot – with Rudiger scoring from the ensuing corner – whilst he also coaxed a foul from Hector Bellerin to win a penalty, which Alvaro Morata missed, before forcing a save from Cech himself.

It looked as though Arsenal were heading for defeat as Alexandre Lacazette couldn’t capitalise on his late flurry of chances, though he did eventually level in the third minute of injury time, guiding in Reiss Nelson’s cross.

Bayern Munich 2-3 Manchester City [International Champions Cup]

It was a bittersweet end to Manchester City’s ICC campaign as an injury to new £60 million signing Riyad Mahrez undermined the joy of beating Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

After defeats to both Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the tournament, more of the same seemed the order of the day as Meritan Shabani and Arjen Robben put Bayern 2-0 up before half-time. Misery, though, was compounded by the injury to Mahrez.

His replacement – Bernardo Silva – turned out to be the star of the show, with a second half brace, interspersed by the equaliser from youngster Lukas Nmecha. Pep Guardiola had taken a young squad to the ICC and they didn’t disappoint against Bayern, drawing high praise from their manager.

Chelsea Lineup

The Italian will also use this game as a chance to work out his preferred back four. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are expected to play on the right and left, respectively, but it remains to be seen whether David Luiz or Andreas Christensen will partner Antonio Rudiger.

Jorginho is likely to be given his first competitive start, whilst Callum Hudson-Odoi is in line for a surprise appearance after his eye-catching display against Arsenal.

Although speculation continues to mount around Eden Hazard and Willian, the position with the most debate is the advanced central midfielder. Ross Barkley, Loftus-Cheek and Cesc Fabregas have all stated their claim to play.

Manchester City Lineup

Despite coming off in the first half against Bayern, there’s “no significant damage” to Mahrez’s ankle, and the winger will be fit for this Sunday’s Community Shield fixture.

However, with Raheem Sterling still recovering and Bernardo impressing, Guardiola could decide to stick with the Portuguese to avoid risking Mahrez so soon to the start of the Premier League.

Taken competitively, this is a chance for Guardiola to reintegrate his World Cup participants, starting with Benjamin Mendy – the left back hasn’t made a competitive appearance for City in a year. Oleksandr Zinchenko, though, could start after featuring in pre-season.

Key Battle: Jorginho (Chelsea) vs Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Two Brazilians effectively playing the same role for their clubs will go head-to-head at Wembley on Sunday, should Fernandinho start after his World Cup participation.

Sitting at the base of their respective three-man midfielders – if Guardiola sticks with a 4-3-3 – both will be battling to get on the ball and exert their influence on the game’s tempo, whilst also efficiently winning the ball back for their sides when out of possession.

Action Images via REUTERS/Paul Childs

However, as mentioned below, Sarri may find it useful to play on the back foot instead of going toe-to-toe with the Premier League champions and leaving themselves vulnerable.

If this was the case, Jorginho becomes even more important in terms of maintaining positional discipline and protecting his centre backs.

Talking Points

An immediate change

Sarri is a manager steeped in the traditions of possession. It’s a style of football he honed and perfected at Napoli and one he rarely deviated from.

Even against the Citizens in the 2017/18 Champions League group stage, the Italians attempted to go toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s side, having a 49% share of the ball at home. Napoli, however, lost that game 4-2 and were similarly defeated 2-1 at the Etihad.

Action Images via REUTERS/John Sibley
Has Sarri taken heed from mistakes of the past? Trying to compete with City isn’t always the best strategy, and Liverpool, for example, had significant European success against them playing on the break.

The new Chelsea boss is a tactically intelligent coach, but stubbornness is often a vice. Although it’s his first competitive game in charge – and there’s an argument for starting as you mean to go on – deviating from your principles every so often is acceptable. He should do so this Sunday.

Looking to impress

Neither the players nor the managers should disregard the Community Shield, as it’s one final chance to stake a claim for first team opportunities ahead of the season.

For example, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have only recently returned to training, so Lukas Nmecha has featured regularly in pre-season and could start up front once more.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The same goes for Oleksandr Zinchenko, who was nearly set to leave the Etihad this summer, but a series of impressive displays in the ICC has changed Guardiola’s mind.

At Chelsea, too, the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi – who shone against Arsenal – Ross Barkley, Loftus-Cheek and Christensen are all looking to prove to Sarri that they deserve to start the season in the first team. Sundays’ game is perfect to further their cases.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City

Although Chelsea’s starting XI is more settled than City’s at this moment in time, if the Napoli vs City Champions League games are anything to go by, then Guardiola will come out on top once again. The Blues haven’t had much time to adjust to Sarri’s way of thinking, and this will show on Sunday.

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Oli Stein

Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has worked with RealSport since September 2016. Currently assistant football editor and Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @steinoliver_

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