As the hours tick away before FA Cup victor Arsenal stares down defending Premier League champions Manchester City in Sunday’s Community Shield, one side will feature most of their latest transfer signings while the other limps into the game with eight players ruled unfit.
With Wembley Stadium playing host to the friendly, the match is sure to give supporters for both sides a glimpse into their fitness for the looming Premier League term. Arsenal spent most of last season atop of the standings, and while they did finish fourth for yet another spot in Champions League, the Gunners couldn’t recover from poor losses in the second half of the term, including a 6-0 letdown to Chelsea and a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool.
As a result, manager Arsene Wenger spent much of the summer retooling this squad and made several splash, and unusually expensive, acquisitions. Emirates supporters were very pleased with the addition of former Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez to the tune of £30 million, as well as right-back/lurking playmaker Mathieu Debuchy via Newcastle United. Both are expected to play against City, and 19-year-old defender Calum Chambers will also be available, though keeper David Ospina is suffering from a thigh injury. Wenger is also likely to rest Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, all members of Germany’s World Cup winning squad that clearly earned more than a month of rest before the start of the EPL.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who guided his club to their second title in three years in his first season at the helm, also has rest in mind for some of his top players and recent acquisitions, including one who called the Emirates home for seven years and 213 career appearances.
Pellegrini announced Friday that Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero, Frank Lampard and former Gunner Bacary Sagna are not fit to play, according to the club’s official site. Pellegrini also gave an update on the status of striker Alvaro Negredo, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during friendly play last month.
"All the players that have arrived on Monday will not be ready to play on Sunday," Pellegrini said. "These players have had a special pre-season for this week and it will continue into next week.
"Lampard is not ready to play. We will see if he is ready to play in the Premier League.
"For the moment, the squad has no injury problems – only Alvaro Negredo. He is recovering well but he has at least two or three months that he will not play.
"He is at Carrington, working on different things so there is no problem."
Kompany’s expected absence makes the most sense, especially after the star played through nagging injuries throughout Belgium’s World Cup run to the quarterfinals. Negredo is expected to be out for about three months, and while City will miss his stellar all-around play that resulted in nine goals last term, they still have Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko to focus the attack. Aguero was second on the team with 17 goals scored last term, and it’s more likely Pellegrini is just resting his star, and the sit has nothing to do with the Argentine’s ongoing negotiations with the club over a contract extension. According to Daily Mail, City are hoping to sign the 26-year-old to a five-year deal worth £210,000-per week.
Prediction: City over Arsenal 2-1
Time: 10 a.m. EST
TV Channel: BT Sport in the UK, and Fox Sports 1 for the U.S.