Callum Davies

What: English FA Community Shield
Who: Manchester City vs Manchester United
When: Sunday 7th August 2011, at 14:30 UK Time
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England

The Loud Revolution

For a few years now the mass influx of players at Eastlands has arguably left the team bereft of spirit and lacking in stability. Finally however, it appears that a new era is dawning for Roberto Mancini’s men after flexing their financial muscle in a more subtle manner throughout this summer’s transfer window.

Despite the proposed departure of Carlos Tevez, City have once again pulled off a stunning coup in landing £38M-man Sergio Aguero from Atlético Madrid, a forward who on paper is a more than adequate replacement for the club’s captain, and for the best part of last season, best player. Aguero will most likely start on the bench, but Tevez’s involvement is almost impossible after Mancini granted him a prolonged summer-holiday period with his family.

There is no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson sees City as genuine contenders for the Premier League next year, and it is easy to see why. Their well-organised defence led by the ever-reliable Vincent Kompany, combined with the excellent ball-retention skills of Nigel de Jong and David Silva have impressed during a pre-season which culminated in the dismantling of Inter in the Dublin Super Cup.

All this bodes well for the Citizens ahead of the Wembley curtain-raiser.

The Next Generation

Much of the pre-season talk at Old Trafford has not concerned the club’s current players, or the arrival of others, but the departure of a local legend. Paul Scholes was so often the lifeblood of Ferguson’s squad and it is clear his presence in midfield will be sorely missed.

Ferguson remains coy over the possible signing of Wesley Sneijder from Inter to fill the void, but the clearest indication of what needs to be done will become apparent in this game. Having said that, United possess an abundance of talent in midfield, with the likes of Michael Carrick, Anderson and Ji-Sung Park all aiming to cement their places in the starting eleven and in the new wave of great United teams.

The champions’ pre-season tour included a glorious win over difficult opposition, with United beating Barcelona 2-1 in Washington. For this match Javier Hernandez will not be available for the Red Devils after suffering a concussion on tour, and Darren Fletcher is struggling to shake off a mystery virus which affected his availability last season.

Bearing everything in mind however, Ferguson will relish this fixture and will see it as the ideal platform on which to gauge the current United squad.


Recent form

Manchester City:
Inter 0–3 Manchester City (31/07; Dublin Super Cup)
Manchester City 3–0 Airtricity XI (30/07; Dublin Super Cup)
Los Angeles Galaxy 1–1 Manchester City (24/07; Friendly)

Manchester United:
Barcelona 1–2 Manchester United (30/07; Friendly)
MLS All-Stars 0–4 Manchester United (27/07; Friendly)
Chicago Fire 1–3 Manchester United (23/07; Friendly)

Key absences

Manchester City: Carlos Tevez

Manchester United: Darren Fletcher; Javier Hernandez

Players to watch

Manchester City – David Silva: Following a slow start at Eastlands, the Spanish playmaker is beginning to show glimpses of his Valencia form. Silva’s vision and awareness has impressed City fans since his arrival, and he has been singled out as possessing the talent required to channel the club’s planned rise to Premier League glory this season. Without the likes of Scholes and Fletcher at Ferguson’s disposal, United may struggle to find a player capable of nullifying City’s midfield and this could grant Silva more space in United’s half. Silva is a master of ball-retention and that trait is ever-popular in today’s game where possession is so vital.

Manchester United – Wayne Rooney: The United striker has often been the man Ferguson looks to in the big games. Arguably the best forward on the planet, there is no doubt that Rooney will want to hit the ground running following a quiet season by his own admission in 2010/11. He has regained his 2009 form in pre-season, albeit against lowly MLS opposition, notably with a hat-trick against Seattle Sounders. Rooney provided glimpses last season of why he is considered the heartbeat of United, and it only takes a glance at the breathtaking overhead kick which helped United to a 2-1 league win over City at Old Trafford last season to understand that consensus.

Match Prediction

Local derbies are always difficult games to predict and this is no exception. One thing to be certain of is that both teams will field strong teams and come fast out of the blocks in an effort to stamp their authority over the other before the start of the season. Expect fireworks similar to those in the FA Cup semi-final last year when Yaya Toure helped City clinch a valuable win over their biggest rivals.

City will look to break quickly and use incisive passing to permeate United’s defence, but Ferguson’s team will adopt a different approach and play predominantly out wide, where Antonio Valencia and Nani or Ashley Young will attempt to exploit the possible weak links of City’s team, the full-backs.

Despite City’s emergence, United will be a force once again with Rooney’s rediscovered form a factor in this contest. Manchester City 1–2 Manchester United.

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