Arsenal_logoMan-City-logoARSENAL

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MANCHESTER CITY

Wembley Stadium, London

August 10, 2014; 15:00 BST

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Arsenal FC will face Manchester City for the Community Shield at Wembley today. The traditional curtain raiser for the English season is often labelled as a glorified friendly, but both the managers have stressed on the importance of a good start to the campaign. It is not the most coveted trophy in English football, but it is a trophy none the less.

Arsenal have lost two out of their four preseason matches, including a defeat against Monaco in the last game which cost them the Emirates Cup. But it is difficult to read too much into preseason fixtures as players regain full fitness ahead of the new season.

The Gunners have had a wonderful transfer window so far as Arsene Wenger has shrugged away from spending on big money transfers – which is a reflection of the club’s new found financial stability. With arrivals of the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, Arsenal are perhaps one defensive midfielder signing away from being labelled as one of the favourites to lift the Premier League trophy.

This match at Wembley provides them with the opportunity to measure themselves against the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. The Citizens have gone about their business in this transfer window quietly, by their standards, but have made some key additions to an already impressive squad. The Citizens are coming into this game on the back of a 1-4 win over Sporting Kansas City last month and are seemingly the favourites to retain their title this season.

Team news and tactics

Arsenal

It might be a new season, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger still has a lot of fitness concerns ahead of this game. Ryo Miyaichi, Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry continue their spell at the side-lines, while new signing David Ospina has a minor thigh injury, which will keep him out this game. Abou Diaby has picked up a slight hip problem and will miss out on a trip to Wembley.

Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, who were part of the World Cup winning squad will miss the start of this season – Arsene Wenger has confirmed. The Frenchman doesn’t want to force them back quickly and risk an injury. There are also doubts about the fitness of Olivier Giroud, who featured at the Emirates Cup, but looked way short of match-fitness in that game. The Striker will miss this fixture.

Wojciech Szczesny will be in goal with Laurent Koscielny and new signing Calum Chambers pairing up at the center of the defence. Kieran Gibbs, who struggled with his fitness at times last season, will feature at left back, while another new signing, Mathieu Debuchy start at the right back.

Last season, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey were Arsene Wenger’s first choice partnership in the pivot, but Jack Wilshere has had a wonderful preseason and is expected to feature in this game. But Wenger is unlikely to start with Ramsey and Wilshere in the pivot. The Frenchman will partner Arteta with Wilshere at the center of the park, while Ramsey plays in a more advanced role behind the striker.

Wenger does have a lot of option on the wings at the moment, especially after the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell’s return from loan and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain’s return to fitness. Wenger was impressed by Campbell’s performance at the Emirates Cup, following his exploit in the World Cup for Costa Rica, and is likely to start him on the left wing, ahead of Santi Cazorla. Arsenal’s biggest signing this summer, Alexis Sanchez, is expected to start on the right.

With Olivier Giroud struggling with his fitness, Yaya Sanogo will get to lead the line after scoring four goals in the Emirates Cup match against Benfica.

Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Sanchez, Ramsey, Campbell; Sanogo

Manchester City

Like Arsenal, Manchester City will be missing a host of their first team players for this game. Alvaro Negredo continues his recovery from the foot injury and will miss this fixture. Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany, Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard are not in contention for selection in this game as most of the players are still recuperating from the World Cup odyssey.

New signing Willy Caballero could feature in this match, but Pellegrini is likely to persist with Joe Hart in goal. In the absence of Zabaleta and Sagna, Micah Richards will start at right back with Nastasic and Garcia pairing up at the center of the defence. Gael Clichy will start at the left of the back four.

New signing Fernando is expected to start alongside Yaya Toure in the pivot of the 4-2-3-1, while David Silva starts as the playmaker behind the striker. Samir Nasri, who was unceremoniously excluded from the French World Cup squad, will start on the left and will swap with Silva throughout the match. James Milner will start on the right side of the attack. Edin Dzeko will lead the line in absence of Negredo and Aguero.

Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart (GK); Richards, Nastasic, Garcia, Clichy; Toure, Fernando; Milner, Silva, Nasri; Dzeko

Match facts

  • Manchester City have lost only one of their last eight games against Arsenal in all competitions (W4, D3).
  • There have been six red cards in the last eight league matches between these sides, with City receiving four and Arsenal two.
  • The last time they took part in the season’s traditional curtain-raiser was in 2005, when they lost 2-1 to Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Their most recent win in this fixture was against Manchester United in 2004.
  • City have won the Community Shield or Charity Shield on four occasions, but never at Wembley.
  • Arsenal have lost four of their last six competitive matches at Wembley (W1, D1).

Player to watch-out for

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Alexis Sanchez has arguably been the most high profile signing of the Premier League this season, along with Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. The Chilean international impressed in the recently concluded World Cup and comes with a huge reputation tagged along with his name. Sanchez was one of the most consistent performers for Barcelona last season as he scored 19 goals and provided 10 assists in 27 starts in the league and the Arsenal fans will be eager to see him work him magic for their team this season.

Prediction

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City

Although Manchester City do hold a good record against the Gunners in recent times, the Citizens will be missing on a lot of key players in this game, especially in defence. The vulnerability at the back could be exploited by Arsenal’s attack, led by Sanchez. It will be a close encounter with both teams looking to measure themselves at the start of the campaign and the London club are likely to win it by a one-goal margin.

Blast from the past