- Oli Coulson
Back to Wembley for the Blues - Leicester City vs Manchester City Community Shield Preview
Reigning Champions Manchester City will begin their 2021/22 season at Wembley Stadium playing FA Cup Winners Leicester City in the traditional season opener that is the Community Shield. Last season v Leicester was a bag of mixed fortunes for the Citizens, losing 5-2 at home in their opening home game of the season (prior to Ruben Dias' arrival!) before getting revenge in a 2-0 away win at the King Power Stadium in the run-in before the club lifted their seventh Premier League title.
Benjamin Mendy celebrating his opening goal at the King Power Stadium in City's last outing against the Foxes back in April as the club hunted down their seventh league title. The French left-back is expected to stay in Manchester for another year at least.
The first competitive game of the new season is always a bit of an unknown for both sides. In City's pre-season they have faced three sides from the EFL Championship, with a 2-0 win against Preston North End, a 4-0 win against Barnsley and a 4-1 win against Blackpool. Goals from early returning star Riyad Mahrez as well as the 18-year-old dynamic winger Samuel Edozie have been the highlights.
Plenty of players from the academy have been called into Guardiola's pre-season squad to plug the gaps as more and more players come back from their international commitments. Attacking talents such as Cole Palmer, Ben Knight and James McAtee have frequented the pre-season fixtures and have certainly repaid the faith shown, whether they start or not is a different question but with players such as Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus still not back training at the CFA, it could open up opportunities for some younger players to gain first-team minutes at Wembley and maybe even beyond.
Sam Edozie against Barnsley in City's second pre-season fixture. The teenager has scored 3 goals in 3 games for the first team and could have done enough to earn a place in Pep Guardiola's first squad of the competitive season.
Team News: With the exception of brand new signing Jack Grealish, City's other English players have yet to report to training meaning Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Phil Foden won't be playing at Wembley after England making the Euro 2020 final last month. Copa America runners up Ederson and Gabriel Jesus are due to return on Monday 8th August guaranteeing a start for Zack Steffen in goal. Along with Foden who suffered an injury whilst away with England, Kevin De Bruyne sustained an ankle injury during the Euros and is unavailable for the Community Shield. However, Guardiola has said the Belgian will return soon and Foden not long after that. Despite City stars such as Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan, Oleks Zinchenko being in contention to start, the XI is expected to be a bit of a mixed bag which is understandable due to the absences and fitness of others. Aymeric Laporte and Ferran Torres have returned to training but I would expect them to be starting the game on the bench, even over some youngsters due to the lack of preparation.
Predicted starting XI: Steffen, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko; Bernardo, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Mahrez, Palmer, Edozie.
Opposition: Leicester City ended their season in 5th place once again meaning it's another season in the Europa League for the Foxes, however their first ever FA Cup win over Chelsea means their last trip to Wembley will still be positively fresh in the mind of Brendan Rodgers' men. Leicester have moved pretty quickly in the transfer window to bring in highly-rated striker Patson Daka from RB Salzburg and midfielder Boubakary Soumaré from French champions Lille. Former City target and left-back Ryan Bertrand was also brought in on a free transfer and aside from the retirement of long term captain Wes Morgan, Leicester have kept ahold of their whole squad so far.
They've had a mixed bag of results in pre-season, drawing 0-0 with Burton Albion and 3-3 with QPR as well as a 1-0 loss to Wycombe Wanderers. Despite beating recent Europa League winners Villarreal 3-2 in their final friendly before their game against City, the game was marred by a serious injury to Wesley Fofana, leaving the Foxes short in central defence. Leicester will also be without Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, James Justin and Nampalys Mendy at Wembley putting them in a slightly precarious position ahead of the new season. Predicted Leicester XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Amartey, Soyuncu, Benkovic, Bertrand; Ndidi, Maddison, Tielemans; Iheanacho, Vardy
Leicester City celebrate their 5-2 win at the Etihad Stadium from the start of last season.
Match Officials: Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Ian Hussin and Neil Davies
Fourth official: Peter Bankes
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan In April, Tierney refereed City's last appearance at Wembley - the 1-0 win in the Carabao Cup final v Tottenham Hotspur.
The Community Shield will be broadcast on ITV1 in the UK, with coverage starting at 4.30 pm BST and kick off at 5.15 pm BST.
Written by @olicoulsxn
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