The FA Community Shield Preview

by - August 05, 2018

Let The Sarri Adventure Begin.

The Community Shield, the traditional curtain raiser to a new season sees Chelsea go head to head with Manchester City at Wembley this Sunday. It is a match that The Blues have been regular contestants in recently, with this being their 11th appearance in the last 22 years.

(Photos: AFP/Getty Images; graphic:

However, Chelsea do have a relatively poor record in this tie, including losing on their last 4 appearances and only 1 win in their last 7. But, considering this match is seen by most fans as just another preseason match, or just as another day out at the home of English football, this negative run is thankfully quite unique within Chelsea’s generally successful record of winning trophies.

The match will be the first time the footballing world will see Maurizio Sarri’s style of playing stamped all over the Chelsea team. Antonio Conte’s formation with 3 at the back has been replaced with a 4-3-3. But what is just as dramatic will be the change in The Blues’s mental attitude.

Under Conte, the team last season went into matches preparing to “suffer without the ball” as the manager used to express it. However, Sarri has a more positive approach. His side’s tend to move the ball much quicker and look to distribute the play to the front players as soon as possible.

Key to this style of play is Chelsea’s only major signing of the summer. Jorginho will sit as the deepest of a midfield 3. The 26 year old Italian international, who chose to sign for Chelsea as opposed to their opponents on Sunday, The Citizens, possesses a full range of passing along with an impressive footballing brain. His vision on the pitch appears to be a pass or 2 ahead of everyone else. In all 3 preseason matches, his speed of moving the ball on and his pass success rate have been incredible, and he already looks like he has played at the club for years.

Thanks to relatively successful World Cup campaigns, The Blues will be without Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Michy Batshuayi, N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Willian for the Wembley showdown. This gives opportunities for the likes of Willy Caballero in goal, both Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley in midfield and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left flank to shine against the a side that are the odds on favourites to win this season’s Premier League.

During preseason, Barkley and especially Hudson-Odoi, have impressed immensely. The ex Evertonian is looking as fit and as lively as he looked a couple of seasons ago when he was becoming an England regular. His pace and skill with the ball, along with his forward runs could be a huge benefit to the Chelsea front line - an element the side has severely lacked since Frank Lampard moved on. And with Fabregas and Ruben Loftus-Cheek likely to be in contention for the same place in the side, Barkley will need to perform well on a regular basis to keep his place.

Hudson-Odoi. AFP

Meanwhile, 17 year old youth team product CHO has really caught the eye in preseason. His pace and determination to get past his markers have scared the opposition’s defences in every match - on Wednesday evening he out paced Hector Bellerin on a regular basis and considering the Spanish right back is probably the fastest defender in The Premier League it was a stunning display.

Along with the maturity he has already shown, CHO would probably be first choice for almost every other side in the country. However, at Chelsea he is up against one of the best in the world in Eden Hazard. It will be a dilemma that Sarri would cherish if CHO were to continue impressing until Hazard is fit enough to return to the side.

Manchester City are also expected to feature their only major summer signing, with Riyad Mahrez set to feature for Pep Guardiola’s side for the first time despite his recent ankle injury. City have a more complete squad to choose from with fewer players being involved in the latter stages of the World Cup.

The Citizens will start as favourites, but Sarri’s Chelsea will be a handful for them going forward. When his Napoli side played against City in last season’s Champions League group stage, both matches were breathtaking and thrilled all who were watching on.

So the likelihood is of an entertaining affair, with both sides eager to play a very upbeat passing game. Both clubs will want to get a victory over the other, but we have to look back to Manchester United back in 2010 to see that last time The Community Shield winners go on to win the Premier League.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

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