Words like ‘traditional’ and ‘curtain-raiser’ are doing the rounds, so that can only mean that it’s Community Shield time again.
Wembley again plays host as the FA Cup winners meet the Premier League champions, and this year’s competitors enter the new campaign amidst plenty of questions.
Arsenal – who by popular opinion have summered well – will be looking to integrate their new faces into their system as they take on a Manchester City side for whom the new additions have perhaps been less noteworthy, but the squad remains hugely talented.
Here are five key battles that could shape Sunday’s game:
Calum Chambers v Stevan Jovetic
If Arsene Wenger selects new signing Calum Chambers in the centre of defence then the teenager is likely to come face-to-face with City’s in-form forward Stevan Jovetic, who scored five times on his club’s tour of the USA against opposition the calibre of AC Milan, Liverpool and Olympiakos.
The Montenegrin is out to make up for lost time after his City career failed to get off the ground in his first season, and with Sergio Aguero still resting and Alvaro Negredo out injured, this is his time to shine.
Mikel Arteta v Yaya Toure
Wenger needed to strengthen in three key positions this summer, but having done so in two he’s still without a new defensive midfielder.
Mikel Arteta is good at what he does but whether or not he’s good enough to still be starting for Arsenal every week is a debate that could be seen frequently this season, and up against one of the best attacking forces through the centre in Yaya Toure he’s sure to have his work cut out, although that said Toure will have to improve on both his World Cup and pre-season showings if he’s to impress.
Alexis Sanchez v Micah Richards
Even if Alexis Sanchez starts through the middle for Arsenal, he is still likely to be seen drifting out to the left, and as all eyes fall on the Chilean at Wembley, he’ll be up against a man who many would thought would have left Manchester City already.
Ex-Gunner Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta won’t return, or in Sagna’s case start, City training until Monday, giving Richards the chance to slot in at right-back and come face-to-face with one of the new men of the Premier League.
He’ll be hoping to get an easier ride than the one he got from another one of those in Liverpool’s Emre Can…
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Santi Cazorla v Fernando
There’ll be no Mesut Ozil for the Gunners, and so Santi Cazorla will be central to events back at a stadium where he scored a stunning goal in the FA Cup Final in May.
The Spanish international will be looking to drift into pockets of space in the manner he does so well, but new City addition Fernando seems to be pretty adept and closing the door on that space, and this will be an interesting test for him so soon in his English career.
Arsene Wenger v Manuel Pellegrini
Ultimately though, this clash could just come down to how much of a ‘friendly’ the two managers consider it to be.
Manuel Pellegrini appears to be the one who is being ultra-cautious with his World Cup players and not wanting to rush them back too soon, and so some key absences might just see the game played into the hands of Arsenal and Wenger, even though he is without his Germans.
After waiting nine years for a trophy the Gunners will want to get that feeling of silver in hand again, and that extra edge could just see them take the honours, however ‘prized’ those honours are.
Arsenal are the outsiders to win in 90 minutes at 3.35 – Bet now!