The Community Shield is the curtain raiser of the football season and it features the two best teams of the 2018/19 season. Manchester City won both the Premier League and the FA Cup, therefore Liverpool have qualified for this game based on their second-placed finish. It will be great to see their rivalry renewed this weekend, with the pair likely to be competing at the very top of the division again.
Manchester City have had another good summer, as they have added key pieces to their squad. Rodri joins from Atlético Madrid, to provide depth in central midfield and competition for Fernandinho. He is excellent in possession and will be a great fit for a Pep Guardiola side. There are fears that Leroy Sane could be set to leave for Bayern Munich, but City would likely replace the German if that was the case. The current champions have been incredible for the past two seasons. It would be a surprise if they don’t reach those levels again.
Liverpool have yet to make a major summer signing, which has caused concern among their supporters. However, they already have a very talented squad, with last season’s signings Naby Keita and Fabinho likely to be stronger for a year of experience. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also set to return for an entire campaign. The summer exploits of their front three means that there may be more rotation there at the beginning of the season. Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri should both get minutes in the opening month.
There were only three goals scored in the two Premier League matches between the clubs last season.
Liverpool haven’t competed in this fixture since 2006.
Raheem Sterling has become one of the best players in the Premier League under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. The England international will be looking to emerge as one of the world’s best over the next 12 months and a strong start to the season will be key to achieving that. Due to breaking out as a teenager, the Manchester City attacker has been around for what feels like a long time. However, he is only 24 and the best years of his career are in front of him. That is a very scary thought for the rest of the top-six, including Liverpool, the club that he left to move to the Etihad Stadium. Last season, he contributed 17 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League, which is a remarkable return. He will be aiming for better at the beginning of the new campaign.
The Dutchman is arguably one of the best signings made in the last two or three years. He has had a transformative effect on this Liverpool side. Jurgen Klopp’s team were nervy at the back before his arrival. Last season, they had the best defence in the Premier League. Throughout the campaign, they conceded only 22 times. Manchester City conceded one more. The Reds will have ambitions to compete for the league table again. If they are to come close, they will need a similar defensive record. Van Dijk is central to that. There is still a decision to be made regarding his centre back partner, but there is no doubt that regardless of who is chosen, the Dutch international is the key member of the defence.
Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have only recently returned to the club. Raheem Sterling could start in a central position. Rodri is expected to start following his signing earlier this summer.
Sadio Mane won’t feature for Liverpool following his international commitments in the summer. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are expected to feature. Naby Keita should start in central midfield.
Although the Community Shield shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than a glorified pre-season friendly to start the season, both teams will be wanting to win. It will set an early marker and provide a mental boost for the winners, with both teams expected to challenge for the league title for a second successive season. Manchester City may have won the three domestic trophies, but Liverpool triumphed in the Champions League and that will add extra spice to the rivalry considering the Manchester club have never lifted it. It should be an entertaining game with goals for both sides. A score draw seems a good bet, with Liverpool to win on penalties.
Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool*
*To win on penalties