Gi­ants go to war for Com­mu­nity Shield

CityPress - - Sport -

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

PHOTO: ADAM DAVY / PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION

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

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