MX23RW : Thursday, March 21 12:52:14
Aug 5, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Wembley
Attendance: 72,724
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Preview: Manchester City vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Sunday's Community Shield at Wembley between Manchester City and Chelsea.

Manchester City will do battle with Chelsea in the traditional curtain-raiser for the new Premier League season when they face off in the Community Shield on Sunday afternoon.

The English champions are looking to push on from a record-breaking campaign last time out, as they take on a Blues side embarking on a new chapter under Maurizio Sarri.


Maurizio Sarri watches on during the pre-season friendly between Chelsea and Arsenal on August 1, 2018© Reuters

To say Chelsea have become a Yo-Yo club in recent years would be an understatement. The West London outfit did, after all, go from winning the title one year to finishing down in 10th place the next, before picking themselves up to once again come out on top in 2016-17.

The inability to mount a serious title defence continued last season as Antonio Conte's men failed to so much as make the top four, meaning that Roman Abramovich was left with little choice but to swing the axe earlier this summer.

Even accounting for the Blues' FA Cup success on the final day of the domestic campaign, life under Conte had become stale and it is now down to Sarri to rejuvenate the players available to him.

Only one new player has been brought in since the end of the season, yet in Jorginho the dethroned champions already look a different side in the middle of the park, with the ex-Napoli man able to harry opponents and start attacks from deep.

The late change in manager - a direct result of Chelsea needing to agree a compensation package with Conte and legal fees with Napoli for Sarri - has led to a disjointed pre-season of sorts, not helped by the absence of key men Thibaut Courtois, N'Golo Kante, Eden Hazard and Willian.

All four players were given an extended rest following their World Cup exploits, although the latter has now returned to training, albeit five days after he was initially due to report back - a passport blunder allegedly being to blame for that mishap.

On the field, Chelsea have enjoyed a decent enough pre-season to date, seeing off Perth Glory 1-0 in Australia before returning to Europe and playing out a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan. Sarri notably used a 4-3-3 formation in both games, going the same 11 players from the off.

Then came a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in midweek - a match that the Blues dominated for the opening 30 minutes, only to then cede too much possession and eventually find themselves pegged back at the very death, before losing on penalties.

Sunday's Community Shield presents Sarri with another chance to experiment with different options before welcoming back the likes of Willian, Courtois, Kante and Hazard, although whether any of the quartet will be ready for the Premier League opener against Huddersfield Town next week remains to be seen.

Recent form in pre-season: WDD

Manchester City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League clash with Brighton on May 9, 2018© Reuters

Much is expected of Man City this season on the back of their record-breaking campaign last time out which, among other impressive stats, saw them accumulate 100 points in the Premier League.

The Citizens finished a massive 19 points clear of runners-up Manchester United, while this weekend's opponents ended 30 points worse off in a lowly fifth place.

Surprisingly, though, Riyad Mahrez has been the only new senior arrival at the Etihad Stadium during the off-season, with the £60m capture finally going through last month following plenty of speculation since the turn of the year.

Pep Guardiola missed out on top midfield target Jorginho to Chelsea and, if reports are to be believed, the Catalan will not be bringing in any new players between now and the end of the transfer window.

As has been the case for many of the top-flight big boys, City have not exactly been able to flex their muscles in pre-season. With a number of their star men only just returning to training in a World Cup summer, Guardiola has had to rely heavily on his younger players, many of whom will be restricted to cup appearances when the real business begins.

Defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in the United States would not have exactly concerned the City boss, then, and the English champions did end their tour on a high with a 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich last weekend.

The almost certain absence of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones for the Premier League opener away at Arsenal will be a concern, however, while others - namely skipper Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero - are also doubtful because of a lack of fitness.

Whereas Chelsea have one more friendly to come - at home to Lyon in the International Champions Cup on Tuesday - City know that Sunday's showpiece at Wembley is their last chance to get things right.

The Community Shield presents supporters with a chance to formulate predictions for the season ahead, but in City's case it is probably best to wait until a few weeks in - when their starting lineup looks more familiar to the one that stormed to the title - before coming to any conclusions.

Recent form in pre-season: LLW

Team News

Riyad Mahrez and Alexander Isak during the pre-season friendly between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund on July 20, 2018© Reuters

The biggest injury concern for Guardiola, of those available to choose from, is summer signing Mahrez. The Algeria international returned from the club's pre-season tour in a leg brace, although initial fears of serious damage have since been allayed.

Leroy Sane, who played no part in Germany's World Cup campaign, was a surprise omission against Bayern due to fitness concerns, though he will surely be thrown into the mix at Wembley, while Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte fall into the same category.

After reaching the World Cup final with France, Benjamin Mendy cut short his holiday to link up with his clubmates in the United States, but he has yet to get any minutes on the field and will be slowly eased back in due to concerns over a knee injury.

Elsewhere, Claudio Bravo has started all three friendlies in the absence of regular first choice Ederson, while young forward Lukas Nmecha has also been used heavily and will likely be given a chance to impress against the FA Cup holders, as may Brahim Diaz and Claudio Gomes.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will stick with the 4-3-3 formation that brought entertainment and relative success for Sarri at Napoli, likely meaning regular football at full-back for the versatile Cesar Azpilicueta this coming campaign.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are being eased back in and are favourites to start as the Blues' centre-back duo next season, though David Luiz and breakthrough star Ethan Ampadu remain options for this match.

With Willian and Hazard still absent, Callum Hudson-Odoi has taken full advantage and was once again Chelsea's star performer against Arsenal in midweek, which should mean the youngster retaining his place alongside Pedro and Alvaro Morata.

Further back, Willy Caballero looked shaky at times against the Gunners, whereas youngster Marcin Bulka produced two big saves in his 12 minutes on the field and may well retain the jersey ahead of Courtois's imminent return.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Bolton, Denayer, Laporte, Zinchenko; Foden, Brahim Diaz, Gomes; B.Silva, Nmecha, Sane

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Bulka; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso; Fabregas, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Morata, Hudson-Odoi

Head To Head

None of the last seven encounters between these two sides have ended in draws, stretching back to a 1-1 stalemate in the Premier League three-and-a-half years ago.

City won both top-flight encounters last season - 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in September and 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium in March - having lost both meetings in 2016-17 when Chelsea went on to lift the title.

Overall they have faced off on 159 occasions, with Chelsea claiming victory 66 times and losing 54.

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We say: Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea

Both sides will be below full strength on Sunday as a result of their World Cup absentees, but Man City are looking particularly depleted. Chelsea were also triumphant at Wembley on their last visit, so we are backing them to come out on top in this curtain-raising fixture.

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Who will win Sunday's Community Shield clash between Chelsea and Manchester City?

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Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring for Chelsea on September 23, 2017
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