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Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Sports Mole picks a combined XI from those expected to be available for this weekend's Community Shield clash between Manchester City and Chelsea.

The last two Premier League winners lock horns at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon as current holders Manchester City face dethroned champions Chelsea in the Community Shield.

City eased to their latest title success, finishing 19 points ahead of runners-up Manchester United and a whopping 30 better off than this weekend's opponents, who ended in a lowly fifth.

Much more is expected of Chelsea this coming season following the arrival of a new manager in Maurizio Sarri, however, and the teams will be on more of an equal footing this weekend due to the large number of players absent as a result of their recent World Cup commitments.

Ahead of the annual curtain-raiser, Sports Mole selects a strongest combined XI from both sides, using only those expected to be available this weekend.


Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Both teams will be without their first-choice goalkeepers on Sunday, as Ederson and Thibaut Courtois reached the latter stages of the World Cup with Brazil and Belgium respectively. Marcin Bulka has made the most of his run in the Chelsea side, although his most impressive display was reserved for his 12-minute cameo from the bench against Arsenal in midweek when producing a couple of big saves after replacing Willy Caballero. The youngster is certainly one for the future, but for the here and now Claudio Bravo - despite his 2016-17 difficulties - provides the more stable option.

Chelsea look certain to go with a four-man defence this term after playing with three at the back for the past couple of seasons, which will likely mean the versatile Cesar Azpilicueta shuffling into a full-back spot on the opposite flank to Marco Alonso. Man City will argue that they have better options in Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, but the former has yet to return to training and the latter has not been used during pre-season, despite cutting his holiday short.

It is a similar case at centre-back, too, where Chelsea can call upon two of Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Andreas Christensen or breakthrough talent Ethan Ampadu, whereas the Citizens are currently relying on Aymeric Laporte due to the absence of Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. Unless Sarri springs a surprise, Rudiger and Christensen look most likely to link up in the heart of defence this coming season.

Chelsea may have only brought in one new player during the off-season, but in Jorginho - previously a target for Man City - they have one of the finest defensive midfielders around. A midfield three of Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas ticks plenty of boxes, but Kante is a week away from a return to training and Fernandinho is also not an option. After impressing Pep Guardiola on the club's United States tour, there is no reason to doubt that Phil Foden can add some further creative talent in this attack-minded XI.

There is a question mark over the fitness of Riyad Mahrez heading into Sunday's clash, with the Algerian sustaining an ankle injury against Bayern Munich last week. The Algerian attacker should play some part, though, and Leroy Sane is also in contention for the Citizens despite concerns over his fitness. While a goalscorer in the mould of Sergio Aguero would complement those two players brilliantly, he is not expected to be in Guardiola's matchday squad, so it is left to Alvaro Morata - poor against Arsenal on Wednesday evening - to lead the attack.

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

Chelsea
Manchester City
Chelsea
60.0%
Manchester City
40.0%
Pedro in action for Chelsea on December 30, 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City97202632323
2Liverpool97201631323
3Chelsea96302071321
4Arsenal970222111121
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs9702167921
6Bournemouth95221612417
7Watford95131312116
8Everton94321512315
9Wolverhampton WanderersWolves943298115
10Manchester UnitedMan Utd94231516-114
11Leicester CityLeicester94051515012
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton93241013-311
13Burnley92251017-78
14West Ham UnitedWest Ham9216814-67
15Crystal Palace9216511-67
16Southampton9135614-86
17Cardiff CityCardiff9126819-115
18Fulham91261125-145
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield9036418-143
20Newcastle UnitedNewcastle9027614-82

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