Back of the Net – Community Shield Preview
By George Marrable
- Manchester United take on Leicester City at Wembley
- Five things to look out for this weekend
LONDON, UK – English football’s traditional season opener takes place this weekend as Manchester United take on Leicester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Shock title winners Leicester City will be looking to show the crowd just why they were crowned Champions, whereas fans will also get the first competitive glimpse of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
There will be plenty on offer for fans of both sides, as well as the neutrals. Here are five things to look out for at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.
Mourinho’s Manchester United
This weekend will see Mourinho’s first competitive game in charge of Manchester United. Whilst heralded as a cult hero at Chelsea, all eyes will be focused on how his side sets out and performs against Leicester City.
A well-renowned tactical genius he may well be, but it’s going to be a difficult game for Jose to prepare for. Does he sit cautiously on the counter-attack, like he favours to do, despite Leicester City playing the same way? Or does he go for the kill to try and exploit Leicester’s “inexperience” on the big stage?
Whatever system he chooses, it will offer fans an insight into just what Manchester United are capable of this season.
Leicester City play their first game as defending Premier League Champions
Ex-tinkerman Claudio Ranieri led Leicester City to the most unlikely title victory last season, and this weekend’s game at Wembley will be fans’ first opportunity to see how they plan to defend their crown.
Despite their inexperience on this stage, Ranieri will be confident at keeping his players grounded, just as he did during the title run-in last season. Will the Italian stick to their deadly counter-attacking football? Or will he try to control games more? No matter what, the Leicester City players will play with a smile on their faces this weekend.
How will Leicester City cope without N’Golo Kante?
Undoubtedly one of their key players last season, Leicester will be without Kante this weekend. The tireless midfielder moved to Chelsea in July, leaving a huge gap to fill in their midfield.
A one man team Leicester are certainly not, but he will be a huge miss for the side. However, Ranieri will have a number of options on hand to replace Kante. Nampalys Mendy joined from Nice earlier on in the window, and could slot straight into Kante’s vacant position.
Other than new signing Mendy, Andy King, Gökhan Inler or Matty James could all also be given a chance. However, regardless of who comes in, the Leicester City side will miss the energy and work rate from Kante.
How will the new signings cope in English football?
Both Leicester City and Manchester United have made considerable investment in their sides over the transfer window, and neither seem to be finished just yet.
Manchester United’s new signings will obviously be the biggest talking points this weekend, as the game may see competitive debuts for both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Mkhitaryan. It’s hard not to talk about Zlatan these days, and after his bicycle kick finish against Galatasaray, all fans will be watching to see what magic he conjures up this weekend (if any).
Leicester have added in all areas in preparation for their title defence. Ron-Robert Zieler was signed from Hannover to offer Kasper Schmeichel serious competition in goal, but it seems as though the Danish keeper will keep his place in the side this weekend. Spanish defender Luis Hernandez arrived from Sporting Gijon, with Mendy coming in from Nice for around £15million.
However, Leicester’s main signing this window has been winger Ahmed Musa. The speedy Nigerian winger arrived from CSKA Moscow with a lot of hype and excitement surrounding him, and fans may get their first glimpse of the attacker this weekend.
Where will Wayne Rooney fit into Manchester United’s squad?
Despite being club captain, it looks as though Rooney could have a battle on his hands for a starting role in Mourinho’s side.
Despite Mourinho claiming he will play upfront, Rooney has massive competition in the form of Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial. In most cases, competing with Zlatan does not end well. And, after England’s poor performances at the Euro’s, Rooney has not done himself many favours.
The England captain may well have to settle for playing in midfield this season, and this weekend’s game will give us a clue about where Mourinho wants to play him.
The weekend’s fixture is set to be a great opening game to the season, and will be gloriously well received as fans usher in the beginning of the new football season.
The FA Community Shield between Leicester City & Manchester United takes place on Sunday 7 August at 4pm BST.
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