Arsenal and Manchester City kick off the 2014-2015 season with the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, in a battle of the FA Cup winners and Premier League winners, though both clubs enter the match with high-profile absentees.
Manchester City will be without former Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna, who moved on from the London club in June after joining the Gunners in 2007. Other prominent players who will be unavailable for Manuel Pellegrini’s side include former Chelsea star Frank Lampard, as well as Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, and Vincent Kompany. Striker Alvaro Negredo remains sidelined by a foot injury.
Arsenal will not start striker Olivier Giroud, who is not considered to be fully fit after a match against Monaco. Arsene Wenger will also rest Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski after Germany’s deep run in the World Cup. Abou Diaby is doubtful for the match with a hip injury, which may not be surprising considering the French midfielder has barely played in recent years due to knee injuries. New goalkeeper David Ospina is out with a thigh problem. Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen has left Arsenal for Spain to join Barcelona on a £15 million deal.
The importance and relevance of the Community Shield has been questioned for about as long as its existence, but midfielder Aaron Ramsey stressed that Arsenal will enter the match with a strong interest in defeating the Premier League champions.
“We are going to approach it as if we were approaching the first game of the Premier League,” said Ramsey, who is coming off arguably his best professional season. “It's a big game for us and we are going to treat it like that."
While Pellegrini may not be using his best talent for the match, he echoed Ramsey’s sentiments this week, and denied that it’s a friendly match.
"Of course it is not a friendly match," said Pellegrini. "It is an important game against an important team in Arsenal.
"Maybe both teams do not arrive in our best moment because both have a lot of players who are just getting back after the World Cup.
"But I think it will be a very good game, it is important for both teams to try to win it, and we will try to do that."
Some players to watch for include Arsenal young up-and-comers Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell. New City signee Fernando of Brazil is expected to start, as well as Stevan Jovetic, who is expected to receive more playing time in the upcoming season.
D: Richards, Garcia, Nastasic, Clichy
M: Fernando, Touré, Nasri, Silva
F: Jovetic, Dzeko
D: Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Sanchez
Prediction: Manchester City over Arsenal, 2-1
Kickoff Time: 10 a.m. ET
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England.
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
TV: Fox Sports 1