12 August 2012

2012 Community Shield preview

Eden Hazard wears this for the first time in competition.

This year's Community Shield has been a little overshadowed by the final day of the Olympic Games, but that doesn't mean Chelsea or Manchester City have any less desire to win the first silverware of the football season.

Because of the Olympics, this year's match is not being held in Wembley, which staged the football gold medal match yesterday. Instead, it's a romantic return to Villa Park, which used to host FA Cup Semi Finals until the FA - in their infinite wisdom - decided to milk the Wembley cash cow for all its worth.

Chelsea got here by winning the FA Cup, which would later be followed by the UEFA Champions League. This match begins a new era under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo, with a number of fresh new faces coming in for some departed members of the old guard.

One of those new bucks is the Belgian winger Eden Hazard, who is expected to start in his first competitive match. A good performance here will go some way to showing that he is worth the approximate £32million that Di Matteo (or perhaps more correctly Roman Abramovich) splashed out on him.

Chelsea's other two arrivals will not feature, though. Oscar was at Wembley yesterday as his Brazil team were stunned by an exciting Mexico side, while Marko Marin will sit this one out with a hamstring injury. After being rested by England manager Roy Hodgson, captain John Terry and left-back Ashley Cole will play in this match.

The Blues will be hoping to improve on their torrid pre-season form, which saw them lose three matches, most notably against Brighton & Hove Albion, managed by ex-Stamford Bridge star Gus Poyet.

Another Belgian, Vincent Kompany, will lead out the champions.

We all know how Manchester City won the Premier League to get to this match. They were in last year's Community Shield as well, having won the 2011 FA Cup. They took a 2-0 half-time lead against rivals Manchester United, but then Nani turned the tie around with two goals - including one in the final minute of injury time - as United triumphed 3-2. Fortunately for City fans, that was not a sign of things to come.

Roberto Mancini is ever the optimist. The Citizens manager has said that his team are not favourites to retain their Premier League crown, and also made it clear that his focus is on next week's league opener against Southampton rather than this match.

There will be no Micah Richards for City, after he hurt his ankle playing for England & Wales at the Olympics, so Pablo Zabaleta will retain his place at right-back. Spain's David Silva and Italy's Mario Balotelli are also unlikely to start following their involvement in the UEFA Euro 2012 Final.

City's pre-season form has been considerably better than their opponents. Despite starting the campaign with a shock loss to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, they have since won five matches in a row, including a 2-0 triumph over Arsenal in Beijing.

This marks the 10th anniversary of the old Charity Shield being renamed as the Community Shield, although some people still call it by its former moniker. In the past, winners of this trophy did not often go on to win that season's league title, but in fact, four of the last five winners have done so (the only exception being last year, when United won the Shield but City took the bigger prize).

TDTR PREDICTS: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

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