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Community Shield: Chelsea vs Man Utd: Match Preview

carlo ancelotti sir alex ferguson

Written by Joe Carroll.

Chelsea will come face to face with Manchester United todayin the Premier League curtain-raiser at Wembley, and they will be feeling confident of striking a pre-emptive, psychological blow to their title rivals.

A year on from his first game in charge of the Blues, Carlo Ancelotti returns to the place where it all began in the exact same fixture.  The all too familiar face of Sir Alex Ferguson will provide a sense of deja vu for the Italian, having occupied the opposing dugout in last years Community Shield.  Having overcome his first obstacle that day, Ancelotti will be hopeful if not extremely confident of repeating last year’s win.

Ancelotti believes his side are in a much stronger position than last time around and feels that a win at Wembley tomorrow could have the same effect on his team that ensured they secured a domestic league and cup double last season.  The Italian began life at the Bridge at Wembley and acquired a particular taste for beating 18-time league winners Man Utd.  Chelsea recorded 1-0 and 2-0 victories over their rivals in the Premier League as well as clinching the Community Shield on penalties and with stats like that, it is not hard to see why Ancelotti is so confident about his side’s chances tomorrow.

“I had more doubts last year when I started,” said the Chelsea coach. “But we start this season in a different situation.  I have more knowledge about the players and the club, the atmosphere in England and the teams.  It was a fantastic experience last year and I have surely improved my knowledge.”

Ancelotti has also allayed fears that his ageing squad could hinder his team’s chances of success in the coming season, pointing to his two most talismanic starlets as proof that the squad is all the more equipped to add to an already full trophy cabinet.

“They have one more year experience like me”, said the former AC Milan boss. “You have to pay attention to the players over 30 but Lampard and Drogba are professional and physically good.  I don’t think we have more problems because they’re a year older”

With a year’s Premier League experience under his belt, Ancelotti will be looking to the players that have been there and won it.  Despite their disappointing no-show at this summer’s World Cup in South Africa, the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole can never be counted against.  Their combined Premier League experience is second only to few, which makes it interesting to see whether Ferguson will play the same ageing card.  Midfielder Paul Scholes has won all there is to win at club level and his colleague Ryan Giggs, should he start, will play in his 14th Community/Charity Shield- a staggering number.

With few arrivals in this summer’s transfer window, Ancelotti may not have much choice to play any other way.  Yossi Benayoun is expected to start today’s fixture on the bench, whilst the game has come too soon for fellow new-boy Ramires.  Whilst there is clearly talent in the youth ranks, Gael Kakuta and Jeffrey Bruma particularly impressing in pre-season, it appears Ancelotti will look to the senior players who played so well  and worked so hard to bring the double to Stamford Bridge last time out, to kick-off what Chelsea fans hope will be another trophy laden season.

Whatever the respective manager’s tactics, both teams will no doubt field a strong starting XI.  The Community Shield, not to be confused with a well sought after trophy, will provide a meaningless acquisition in terms of team glory, but today’s encounter carries with it a psychological advantage that could prove decisive.  Chelsea lifted last year’s Community Shield and went on to beat United home and away.  They went on to win the Premier League, but history will tell us that this year’s winner will not necessarily be Premier League champions this forthcoming May.  Since the Premier League’s inception only six out of 18 Community Shield winners have gone on to win the league.

We have come to know Ancelotti as a cool customer over the past year, never allowing himself to get too easily wound up.  We know him to be honest about his team’s performances and confident about their chances, and so far there is little he has been wrong about when it comes to pre-match assessments.  With a confident Carlo at the helm, Chelsea can expect more of the same, with all of his tried and trusted that proved him right on so many an occasion last year.

Possible Line-Ups

Chelsea: Hilario, Cole, Terry, Ivanovich, Ferreira, Lampard, Mikel, Essien, Kalou, Malouda, Anelka

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Evra, Smalling, Vidic, O’Shea, Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Valencia, Rooney, Berbatov

What could be the effects of a Wembley win today?…can it provide early impetus for Chelsea’s title hopes?…who will be the key man for the Blues?…please leave your comments below…

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