The 2019-20 season gets officially underway on Sunday, when Manchester City face off against Liverpool in the 97th FA Community Shield encounter.
Manchester City and Liverpool are set to renew their growing rivalry when they clash against each other in the Community Shield at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
The annual Community Shield contest is played between the winners of the Premier League and the FA Cup. Since Manchester City triumphed in both competitions last season, they will battle against Premier League runners-up Liverpool.
The 2018-19 campaign was another record-breaking one for Manchester City as they successfully retained the Premier League crown and added the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup to their kitty, establishing their dominance in England. Barring a penalty shootout defeat to Wolves, Pep Guardiola’s side have been in good nick in their pre-season campaign as well.
Liverpool missed out on their first-ever Premier League title by just a solitary point, but were crowned champions of Europe as they beat Tottenham in the Champions League final. However, their pre-season form has been sluggish as they have tasted defeats at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli. But the 3-1 win against Lyon in their latest fixture should give them confidence.
Both Manchester City and Liverpool have had their pre-season plans impacted to a large extent by the summer’s international tournaments, which is likely to have an effect on Sunday’s result. As the two best teams in England from last season gear up to compete for the first silverware of the 2019-20 season, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at the encounter;
Team News & Tactics
Star man Sadio Mane will be unavailable, having been involved in the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal where they made it to the final. Mohamed Salah, who also played in the AFCON, will be available though, as will Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, both of whom were part of the Brazil side that lifted the Copa America.
There are no major injury concerns for Jurgen Klopp to contend with heading into Sunday’s game apart from Nathaniel Clye, which means he is likely to name a starting XI that should take the field against Norwich City in their Premier League opener next weekend. Teenage sensation Harvey Elliott could be in for some minutes, having impressed in the game against Lyon.
Alisson should take his place in goal for Liverpool and is likely to be shielded by a back four comprising of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson in the full-back slots, with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk starting as the two centre-backs.
Brazilian enforcer Fabinho should operate as the defensive midfielder for Liverpool, while captain Jordan Henderson should take up one of the remaining two slots in the middle of the park. Adam Lallana and Naby Keita will battle for the third spot, with the latter likely to get the nod.
Firmino and Salah should take up their respective slots in the attacking trident for Liverpool, although it is unlikely that the duo will play the whole game.
With Mane unavailable, it will be interesting to see who Klopp decides to go in with on the left-side of his attack. Harry Wilson impressed against Lyon and scored a goal, while Xherdan Shaqiri is another option at the manager’s disposal. However, Gini Wijnaldum has been used on the left-flank in pre-season to a fairly good effect and is likely to get the nod.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Wijnaldum
Manchester City will be without winger Riyad Mahrez, who was part of the Algerian national team that won the Africa Cup of Nations. Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero were involved in the Copa America and returned to pre-season training only this week.
Left-back Benjamin Mendy remains sidelined as he has just resumed training after a lengthy injury layoff. Fernandinho, Aymeric Laporte and Danilo were not not part of the traveling squad, with the former two being injury doubts while the latter is being linked with a transfer to Juventus.
With Ederson returning to training late, Claudio Bravo is set to feature in goal against Liverpool, manager Guardiola has confirmed in his pre-match press conference. It will be the Chilean’s first competitive appearance after last season’s Community Shield triumph against Chelsea.
Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko will slot in as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively, while John Stones is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the defence. With Laporte’s involvement a doubt, Otamendi could be thrust into action right away despite rejoining training only last week.
New signing Rodri should take his place at the base of the three-man midfield for the Premier League champions in Fernandinho’s absence. The other two slots will be filled up by veteran David Silva and star man Kevin De Bruyne who has been in fine form during the pre-season.
Last season’s revelation Bernardo Silva should get the nod on the right flank, while Leroy Sane should feature on the left, in spite of rumours linking him with a move to Bayern Munich. Both Aguero and Jesus are unlikely to start, meaning Guardiola will start with Raheem Sterling as his centre-forward.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Sane
- Only eight 8 of 27 Community Shield-winning sides have gone on to claim the Premier League title since its inception.
- Liverpool have won the Community Shield, also known previously as the Charity Shield, 15 times in their history. Only Manchester United (21) have won the title on more occasions.
- Manchester City won the Community Shield last season, beating Chelsea 2-0 courtesy of a Sergio Aguero double. If they defeat Liverpool on Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s side would be winning their sixth domestic trophy from the last seven available.
- This will be Liverpool’s 22nd appearance in the Community Shield fixture. The Reds last appeared in the encounter thirteen years ago in 2006, when they beat Chelsea 2-1 to lift the Shield.
- Manchester City have won on each of their last six visits to Wembley in all competitions, with their last defeat at the national stadium coming in the 2017 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
Player to Watch
Last season was quite a memorable one for Raheem Sterling. The England international emerged as one of the MVP’s of Pep Guardiola’s side as they conquered all domestic competitions. Sterling chalked up an amazing return of 25 goals and 18 assists from 51 matches in all competitions in the 2018-19 campaign.
Following Vincent Kompany’s departure, there has been talk in some quarters about the 24-year-old being handed the club captaincy by Pep Guardiola. And Sterling has shown he is up for the challenge, carrying his impressive form in the pre-season friendlies, where he scored four in four matches.
Going up against his former club on Sunday, the England international would want to kickstart the season with a strong performance and fire his team to their first silverware of the season.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City
Sunday’s Community Shield clash gives both Manchester City and Liverpool an opportunity to strike an early blow to their rival in their race for domestic supremacy. And as has been the case recently, there are likely to be fireworks when these two sides take the field at the Wembley Stadium.
Both squads are feeling the brunt of the summer’s international tournaments, missing out on a number of key players heading into the curtain raiser of the 2019-20 season. Manchester City though, have been in good nick throughout their pre-season campaign, whereas Liverpool have been a bit off-colour.
As a result, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting the reigning Premier League champions to pip the reigning European champions narrowly to lift the first piece of silverware of the new season.