Giants go to war for Community Shield
Arsenal and Manchester City will raise the curtain on the 2014/15 season when they lock horns at the Wembley Stadium in the 2014 FA Community Shield this afternoon.
The Citizens earned their place in the annual event after lifting the Premier League title last year, producing some barnstorming displays to clinch a second top-flight crown in three years.
Meanwhile, the Gunners ended their nine-year trophy drought after seeing off Hull City 3-2 in a thrilling FA Cup final. They came back from being 2-0 down after eight minutes to eventually snatch the winner in the second period of extra time.
Arsenal will still be reeling from their humiliating 6-3 defeat at the Etihad eight months ago although Arsène Wenger has added considerable talent to his squad since then. The formerly frugal Frenchman followed up last year’s club-record £43 million (R769 million) signing of Mesut Özil with another big-money move for Alexis Sánchez, who joined from Barcelona for £35 million last month.
Youngster Calum Chambers and right back Mathieu Debuchy have also been brought on board for a combined £22 million as Arsenal look to forge a squad capable of challenging for silverware on all fronts, including an elusive first Champions League crown.
City have also added to their squad with Manuel Pellegrini bringing in goalkeeper Willy Caballero and playmaker Fernando, while right back Bacary Sagna left Arsenal for the Etihad on a free transfer, joining former Gunners Samir Nasri and Gaël Clichy in Manchester.
Frank Lampard is another big-name City signing this season. Chelsea’s alltime record scorer penned a six-month loan deal with City, having left the Blues for new Major League Soccer franchise New York City, who share the same owners as the Manchester outfit.
Victory for either side this weekend will boost confidence ahead of the new campaign. City begin their title defence against Newcastle, while the Gunners entertain Crystal Palace.
The two are by no means the sole contenders for the title. Chelsea are marginal favourites with the striker problems endured by José Mourinho’s side last term solved by the arrival of Diego Costa from La Liga champions Atlético Madrid.
Liverpool will be hoping to go one better than last season with the 2013/14 runners-up having undertaken a mass spending spree after the £75 million sale of Luis Suárez. They will face a depleted Southampton in their league opener next weekend.
Manchester United have been tipped for a huge turnaround under new manager Louis van Gaal after their seventhplace finish under former boss David Moyes. The Red Devils face Swansea in their first league outing under the Dutchman. – TEAMtalk Media
DYNAMITE DUEL Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud (left) and Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany in action last season. Expect fireworks when these two giants do battle for Community Shield honours today