Manchester City v Arsenal: the Community shield prelims



By Tony Attwood

If you have taken a glimpse at my last little piece (Yesterday we stood on the terraces of Arsenal’s first stadium) you might appreciate why today’s Community Shield game (previously known as the Charity Shield) has taken second place.

Not least because we’ve often raised the issue of where Community Shield money actually goes.  As for example with our piece “What happened to the Grenfell Tower money collected from the Community Shield match?”

Still, maybe they are getting their act together after all our years of protesting about their secrecy because this year we have a revelation in terms of who is to benefit.   All they need to do now is tell us within a couple of weeks how much the foundation will get.

So anyway, we start again today with Arsenal playing Manchester City and lots of people saying they hope Arsenal lose because the club that wins tends not to win anything else in the course of the season.

Arsenal have not won the league since the unbeaten season 19 years ago (and I still totally remember both the day of winning the title at Tottenham and the day of completing the season unbeaten at home to Leicester), so it must be time to do it again.

And actually, the number of clubs who have won the league more than a couple of times is just 14 – something I didn’t know until I just looked it up.   That is quite a small number for a league that has been running for 125 or so years.

But it seems not much (if anything) has been learned.  The idiots at the FA set the kick-off time for 5.30pm and of course and quite reasonably the Manchester City fans protested that they would not be able to get trains back to the north west.  So they changed the kick off time.  Now it is 4pm.  

How many times has this sort of thing happened, and yet still the silly people who run the FA have not learned and go ahead and announce 5.30pm kick offs in London on a sunday.   They really do wear two hats at the FA.  One for not learning and one for being totally bonkers.

ESPN ran an article with the headline, “What will the managers do differently to make a statement?” which was rather quaint I felt because it assumed that the managers would want to make a statement.  What they never consider is that some teams deliberately hide some of the details of their style and approach in order to fool the opposition in the weeks to come.   

What’s more, players who are not quite ready but would be risked in a league match, are definitely not risked for this game.   Then again tactical approaches that have been worked on in the training ground are tried out, just to see, are tried out again, and then put on hold for another month while further practice takes place.  It’s that sort of game.

If Manchester City do have something new in store I would not be surprised if we don’t see it and they suddenly roll it out for their game next Friday against Burnley.  There is also the issue of replacing the arch-controller Gundogan; maybe that is already done, maybe they are still experimenting, or maybe they will make it look as if they are experimenting and then unleash the real approach on Friday.

What everyone has been talking about however is the rotation of player positions that we often saw last season with Arsenal.  That now seems to be the fundamental of Arsenal with different players turning up in different positions at different times, hopefully confusing those supposed to be marking them but not confusing themselves.  Even Saka, who previously stuck to his post on the wing has started playing in other positions.

Last season Manchester City managed to lose the Community Shield match 3-1 to Liverpool.  Liverpool then failed to win any of their first three league games while Manchester City won ten and drew three of their next 13 games.

So maybe Manchester City will once again treat this as a pre-season friendly – after all two seasons ago they not only lost the Community game they also lost their opening league game but then didn’t lose a league game until the end of October.

Manchester City have in fact played in four of the last five Community games, winning one, drawing one and losing the last two.  Arsenal are likely to be more motivated having not won anything since winning the FA Cup in 2020 and the subsequent Community Shield.

More soon…


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