Holiday over and back to work. I’m really looking forward to getting started at Wembley on Sunday presenting the FA Community Shield between Manchester United and Manchester City. Rarely have I looked forward to a ‘friendly’ more than this one as there are so many sub plots to the game and so many quality players on show. Add to that the new faces on both sides, who will have key roles to play in the forthcoming season, and you have a potent mixture. David De Gea who has huge gloves to fill in goal for United and Sergio Aguero who may have to fill Carlos Tevez’s giant boots.
These sides have met once before in this fixture – champions Man Utd beat Cup winners Man City 1-0 at Maine Road in October 1956 with a goal from Dennis Viollet. United went on to win the title that season with City finishing 18th. This is Man Utd’s 28th appearance in CS – a record. They have won the Shield outright a record 14 times (they have also shared it on four occasions).
This is the seventh time the Charity/Community Shield has been contested by two teams from the same city – the last time was in 2005 when Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Millennium Stadium. In total, the Charity/Community Shield has had three all Liverpool finals (1966, 1984 and 1986), two all London finals (other was when Arsenal and Tottenham shared the trophy in 1991) and one all Manchester Final.
It’s interesting that in the last four years, the winner has gone on to win the Premier League (Man Utd winners in 2007, 2008 and 2010; Chelsea 2009).
I’ve enjoyed monitoring the trading on Betdaq’s excellent IPad app and Man Utd are currently favourites at 2.4 with the draw at 3.4 and City at 3.35.
There is little to choose between these two sides and I think Sunday’s game will be very tight and can easily see the match going to penalties. If the game is level after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will decide the winners (there will be no extra-time). Seven previous Community/Charity Shield games have been decided by penalties, including three of the last four. Five of Utd’s last eight wins in the Shield have been won by a penalty shoot-out, including four of the last five. 1-1 at 8.2 would be my idea of the best bet.
It should be an entertaining afternoon and I hope you can join myself, Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville on Sky Sports HD1 from 2.15pm.
Looking longer term I think Manchester City are massive runners at 5.1 in the Premier League title race. All the pieces of the jigsaw are in place. They have a rock solid defense, a brilliant midfield with the best defensive midfielder in the league in Nigel de Jong and it’s most talented creator, David Silva. Up front I think Sergio Aguero can set the Premier League alight. The team is there and I just hope Roberto Mancini let’s them express themselves in the big games, which were their Achilles heal last season. City would be second favourites in my book rather than Chelsea (3.85). There’s no doubt Manchester United (2.8) are going to be very hard to beat. Lots more on the title race next week.
My main fancy of the weekend is Heavenly Dawn in the Listed Fillies’ race at Haydock (3.20). She was very impressive in handicap company at Newbury last month and looks ready for this step up in grade. Heavenly Dawn is just the type of filly with which Sir Michael Stoute excels and she remains open to a stack of improvement.