The FA Cup winners play the Premier League Champions in the traditional season-opener on Sunday and Steve Rawlings fancies the outsiders are the value...
“The Community Shield has been contested by the F.A Cup winners and the League Champions since 1974 and the F.A Cup winners are on a run of four straight victories. Following their 1-0 victory against Manchester United in May, Chelsea are looking to extend that run to five and at odds in excess of 5/2, they’re value to keep the trend running.”
Chelsea v Manchester City
Sunday 5 August, 15:00
Live on BT Sport
Will Sarri's smooth start continue?
Maurizio Sarri, the latest man to enter the revolving Chelsea manager's door, takes charge of his first 'competitive' game for The Blues on Sunday after two decent enough matches in the International Champions Cup in France and Ireland, against Inter Milan last Saturday, and London rivals, Arsenal, on Wednesday. Both games finished one apiece with Chelsea winning the first on penalties, 5-4, before they lost 6-5 to Arsenal.
N.B Chelsea play their third and final International Champions Cup game on Tuesday against Lyon at Stamford Bridge.
It's not going to be an easy start to Sarri's reign, with doubts surrounding the future of star players Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard and Willian and with World Cup winner, Olivier Giroud, also rumoured to be on his way out, but Chelsea fans could be in for a treat this season.
Brazilian-born Italian, Jorginho, a long-time target of Sunday's opponents, has followed Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea and it may not be long before the pair have Chelsea playing the sort of football that Pep Guardiola was gushing about before City took on Napoli in the Champions League last year. "He's one of the absolute best." Pep said of Sarri. "The football played by Napoli has been out of this world."
It's going to take time for Sarri to make his mark in the capital and having umpteen departures and a few more possible arrivals won't help the transition any but if we can read anything in to his first two games in charge, the signs are positive for Blues fans.
Hectic summer schedule set to hinder City
Other than missing out on the aforementioned Jorginho signature (arguably understandable now given the managerial switch at Stamford Bridge), Manchester City aren't experiencing anywhere near the level of transfer turmoil of their rivals. Riyad Mahrez is their first and probably last transfer in and no big names are likely to leave. The squad will be almost identical to the one that smashed all sorts of Premier League records last season and they're understandably odds-on shots to be the first to retain the Premier League title in ten years but a disrupted start to their 2018/19 campaign is a distinct possibility...
Saturday will mark the tenth anniversary of Sheikh Mansour's purchase of the club and what a transformation he's made. Major honours have been won aplenty and Manchester City's revenue has quadrupled since his arrival but the club wasn't bought because the Sheikh had halcyon memories of a once great team in the 1930s, late 60s and the early 70s, or even because they won the FA Cup more than 100 years earlier (blimey, they do have history!), he bought the club because he knew how rapidly football was growing across the globe and a 'sleeping giant' like City was an ideal purchase but the quest to transform them in to a global brand does come, occasionally, at a cost to the team.
Playing seemingly pointless friendlies in China and the States are never ideal preparation for a hectic Premier League campaign and they're an even bigger inconvenience in a World Cup year when a large proportion of the squad have played in the maximum number of World Cup matches. Having reached the semi-finals and having met each-other in a pointless third-place playoff, City's numerous Belgian and English stars have only this week returned to their domestic fold and none of them made it to the States for City's three International Champions Cup games with Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern.
A squad of largely fringe and youth players made the trip to the States, where City lost 1-0 and 2-1 to Dortmund and Liverpool before coming from 2-0 down to beat Bayern. The inconvenient tour didn't teach anyone anything and new signing, Mahrez, even managed to pick up an injury although he will play on Sunday.
With the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones and club captain, Vincent Kompany, all featuring heavily in the World Cup and with injuries to Danilo and Benjamin Mendy, we could see a makeshift defence with the likes of Jason Deneyer and maybe even Cameron Humphreys involved. Influential talisman and ex-Chelsea player, Kevin de Bruyne, will not figure in midfield so soon after his return from the World Cup and the inexperienced Lukas Nmecha may well be given at least some time up front. There'll be times to back City with confidence going forward this season but this doesn't look like one of them.
Neither side have convincing Community Shield pedigrees
In its various guises, Chelsea have won just four of their 12 Community Shield games they've played and City's record of four wins from ten is only marginally better.
Chelsea have lost their last four appearances in the Community Shield and City have lost two of their three most recently played. Manchester United beat them 3-2 in 2011 and Arsenal beat them 3-0 four years ago, two years after City beat this week's opponents 3-2 at Villa Park.
The Community Shield is an official honour but it's not much more than a glorified friendly in reality and with the two teams having much bigger fish to fry in future and with injury and fitness doubts aplenty, it's a very difficult game to predict but preference for me is with Chelsea.
The Community Shield has been contested by the FA Cup winners and the League Champions since 1974 and the FA Cup winners are on a run of four straight victories. Following their 1-0 defeat of Manchester United in May, Chelsea are looking to extend that run to five and at odds in excess of 5/2, they're value to keep the trend running.
With big names looking certain to leave, this is an opportunity for a few players to impress the new Chelsea boss against a City side with one eye on a very tricky opening Premier League tie at Arsenal next week. The Citizens did the double over Chelsea last season but Chelsea haven't lost three in-a-row to City since 2010 and they might just stop the rot again here.
Goals could be in short supply but entertaining encounter expected
The chances of a keenly contested tie on Sunday look slim. Both managers have the utmost respect for each-other and neither side will be going hell for leather for victory. England fans in need of a lift following the World Cup may well get a fantastic glimpse into the future though if the Stockport Iniesta, Phil Foden, and the ridiculously promising Callum Hudson-Odoi, are on opposing sides on Sunday and we can expect a skilful and attractive game but I'm not convinced we'll see many goals and odds-against about Under 2 ½ Goals could be the play.
Whether Sergio Aguero starts or not is debatable but he'll be well worth backing to score if he does. The Argentine has scored five times in his last five games against Chelsea and no Manchester City player has scored more goals (three) than Sergio at Wembley.
Staked: 42.5 pts
Returned: 52.34 pts
P/L: +9.84 pts
Best Odds on the Premier League
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1 pt Chelsea at [3.95]