by ‘Ifreke Inyang
By 1.30pm this Sunday, football junkies – who by their undefined standards, have fed on crumbs all summer – welcome back proper soccer. The Community Shield game, the annual curtain raiser for the English Premiership, unarguably Britain’s most watch drama series, will be played at Villa Park. This year, it will be either of Manchester City or Chelsea, who will lift the piece of silverware.
Chelsea have been busy in the transfer market. The Blues have already completed transfers for Eden Hazard from Lille, Marko Marin from Werder Bremen and Oscar from Internacional. Quite shockingly, Roberto Mancini, is yet to open his cheque book and add a new face to his squad. Instead, having been linked with Hazard and Robin van Persie earlier in the summer, they find themselves trying to get rid of unwanted players.
So for City, it will basically be the same team that won the 2011/2012 season in the final five minutes. They have not performed badly in pre-season, winning their matches against Arsenal, Wolfsburg and Besiktas. On the other hand, Chelsea manager, Roberto Di Matteo, has been busy experimenting with tactics, to accomodate his execessive talent in midfield. And his team have not sparkled. A 1-0 loss to an AC Milan, lacking genuine firepower, followed a 3-1 defeat to Championship side, Brighton and Hove Albion.
Although this fixture traditionally sets the tone and raises the hype for every new season, it is not usually a marker for how the teams will fare in the next nine months. Having said so, both teams will be seeking to grab this chance to make a statement of intent – a first impression that will send an emphatic message to other Premiership teams.