By Tom Bell.
Sunday sees Manchester United take on their city rivals Manchester City at Wembley in the Community Shield. United enter the game as the most successful side to have won the trophy, winning it a massive 11 times more than their counterparts, with City’s last win of the shield in 1972. It has been claimed the game is nothing more than a hyped up friendly, which, to be fair, we have seen weakened line-ups in the past, much like pre-season friendlies. However, on this occasion I can’t help predict it’ll be much more like a clash of rivals rather than a friendly kick-about between neighbours.
Team selection thoughts
Number 1 spot up for grabs..?
Following the retirement of Edwin Van der Sar United acted swiftly in finding a potential successor by signing Spanish U21 International David De Gea. Encouraging performances from the Spaniard, Ben Amos and Anders Lindegaard during pre-season has raised an interesting selection dilemma for Sir Alex, albeit a pleasant one.
Continuity for a new goalkeeper and his defenders is an important consideration; therefore Sunday’s selection will offer an insight into Ferguson’s thinking as the same goalkeeper is likely to be allowed an extended opportunity to establish himself.
Due to the composed performance against Barcelona De Gea may be favoured, although he should expect a sterner test when attempting to claim crosses against a physical City team.
Who at right back?
Rafael’s inclusion in United’s squad for Paul Scholes’ testimonial suggests the young Brazilian has recovered from the knock sustained in the 2-1 victory over Barcelona. In the same game Smalling was mightily impressive both defensively and whilst in possession. Then there was Jones who adequately kept in check Thierry Henry during the All Stars game. When United and City met at Old Trafford last season John O’Shea was preferred to counter the visitor’s aerial threat from set pieces, Sir Alex may decide a similar option on Sunday meaning Smalling or Jones earning the nod. Fabio enjoyed a period at right back towards the latter stages of last season and may be considered first choice regardless of Rafael’s availability.
Rafael or Fabio are the attacking options while Smalling or Jones is the more reserved selection choice.
Three man midfield
In the three matches against City last season Sir Alex decided to mirror local rivals by opting for a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation.
The first encounter at Eastlands was a dull affair with United edging the midfield battle however, they lacked the attacking thrust to prosper from their slight advantage. The contest for midfield supremacy was evenly matched in the return fixture isolating Rooney in the lone striker role with both Anderson and Fletcher struggling to cope with Touré’s presence. At Wembley United early on controlled proceedings with Scholes, Carrick and Park dominating the midfield area. Unfortunately United were unable to capitalise and paid for missed opportunities when City’s confidence grew warming to the task and eventually taking command. Touré was again influential and pounced on an unfortunate error from Carrick to seal a place in the FA Cup final for the blue half of Manchester.
In what is considered a glorified friendly will Sir Alex opt for a variation on 4-4-2? Or will he remain true to form by favouring a three man midfield? I am leaning towards the latter with Carrick, Park and Anderson likely starters. The impressive Cleverley is an obvious alternative and the evergreen Giggs is another option.
Here, at S.E.A we spoke to City fan Jim who gave thoughts on the game, summer transfers and that Balotelli incident:
Patchy pre-season and a dull Community Shield awaits
During pre-season City have looked patchy early on however, they were using a lot of the younger squad players and there were good wins towards the end especially, the comprehensive win over Inter Milan last week (which must be good for their confidence). I don’t think either side will be bothered about Sunday, why pick up an injury at this stage of the season…? I’m expecting a snore draw , with extensive subbing from the bench.
Premier League title? Not just yet…
I think we have bought well this year and reinforced areas where needed i.e Clichy at left back (all blues know Kolarov can’t defend) and the signing of Aguero was brilliant (the club must have known the Tevez situation is only going one way and done something about it) Aguero with Silva feeding him should be exciting. Still think it’s too early for the Blues to talk about the title. We are still growing as a team and only been in its present form for a season. I would be looking for steady progression and growth in the team (another top 3 would do me with a maybe a little silver on the way and kick on next season for the big one). There again who knows how much pressure Mancini is under by the management to win it this year? I am not personally bothered about Champions League football (never have been – it’s all about the money!)
At first I thought he was having a laugh, but to be fair to him the more I see it I really thing he did think he was blown for offside – having said that he still should have hit the net and not try to ‘showboat’.
Pretty sure another maverick who used to pay for your lot would have done the same or similar… Cantona?
It’s clear he is struggling to settle and only time will tell if he does – he has had problems taking orders his entire career (didn’t Mourinho say he’s impossible to work with?)
I hope he does stay because he is talented, and in a very dull and stale Premier League where individuality is frowned upon and players are controlled like puppets – he is breath of fresh air. Fans love him.
Bye bye Tevez!
Thanks for the memories Carlos – there’s the door……
Vincent Kompany vs. Wayne Rooney
For me, Vincent Kompany has really proved himself since his £6m transfer in 2008. He’s proved to be an absolute steal of a signing, with Martin Keown calling him the finest defender in the Premier League. His judgement is a massive strength, as well as his physical presence. Rooney has shown himself to be in the elite when it comes to attacking talent and Kompany will prove to be a strong opponent for Rooney.
Yaya Touré vs. Anderson
Touré occupied an unexpected role during his first season in the Premier League compared to his spell with Barcelona and not forgetting the 90 minutes at the heart of Barca’s defence in the Champions League final victory in ’09, highlighting his supreme all round talent. The Ivorian is an imposing figure, so United will have their work cut out to match Touré’s physical presence. In attacking scenarios he is likely to patrol the same area/space as Carrick, but Anderson will be given the task to quash his influence in deeper positions.
Pablo Zabaleta vs. Ashley Young
New Man United signing Ashley Young has proven he can play at the top for Villa with a top drawer full of eye-catching performances. Zabaleta seems to be held in high regard by City fans and has been ever consistent since his 2008 transfer from Espanyol. If Young can really turn on his game against Zabaleta he will prove to be a real test for Zabaleta.
Pace has gathered over summer with some calling City genuine title contenders and who wouldn’t with their limitless bank balance? Fergie still believes they are noisy neighbours and will want to prove that from the very start of the season; as a consequence both teams will be looking to gain a slight mental edge over the local rival. For that reason I believe the game will be a cautious affair, perhaps a score draw or either team winning by a single goal margin.
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