Manchester City and Arsenal are set to face each other on Sunday at Wembley Stadium for a first dig at silverware for the upcoming campaign. After already securing the treble in a historic 2022-23 season, it is now upto Mikel Arteta and his men to step up and provide a challenge to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Following a thrilling 2022-23 Premier League season where the Gunners spent 248 days at the top of the table, Manchester City’s squad depth and experience put a swift end for Mikel Arteta to lift his first league title. In an attempt to garner resources to match their ambitions, Arsenal have gone on a massive recruitment drive which saw additions of Jurrien Timber, Kai Havertz and Declan Rice to the club. Even though masses would consider the North London side as the underdogs, Pep Guardiola would not take the fixture lightly.
In their recent head-to-head clashes, the Gunners have had a woeful record against the defending champions. Since Guardiola was appointed in 2016, City have lost just once against Arsenal. However on a brighter note for the London giants, their record at Wembley has been exceptional with just 2 defeats in their last 15 matches. Arteta led his side to FA Cup glory in his first season in charge and followed that up with winning the Community Shield in the following 2020-21 campaign.
The two clubs are no strangers to the trophy as they have collectively lifted the cup a total of 7 times in the last 11 years- with Arsenal’s 4 and City’s 3 Community Shields.
Arsenal’s number 9 and former Man City striker Gabriel Jesus will be on the sidelines for a few weeks as he suffers complications with his previous knee injury. Another ex-City player Oleksandr Zinchenko is yet to recover from his calf injury. Other injury woes for Arteta include Reiss Nelson’s toe laceration, Mohamed Elneny’s knee issues and Albert Sambi Lokonga’s muscle injury. Bukayo Saka missed the Emirates Cup win against AS Monaco due to illness but is expected to be match-fit against City. Arteta told reporters on Friday “Bukayo is much better, he trained today. I don’t expect anybody else to not play.”
For Manchester City, Kevin De Bruyne’s hamstring injury in the Champions League final could still be an ongoing worry. Having not featured for his side since May, it is unlikely that the Belgian will play a part in the Community Shield. Furthermore, Nathan Ake limped out of the pre-season clash against Bayern Munich and is expected to be rested. Man City’s big-money signing Josko Gvardiol will most probably be unavailable for selection for Sunday.
Predicted Arsenal lineup vs Manchester City: Ramsdale, Timber, Gabriel, Saliba, White, Odegaard, Rice, Partey, Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli.
Predicted Manchester City lineup vs Arsenal: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Rodri, Silva, Kovacic, Foden, Grealish and Haaland.
What to Expect:
Despite certain people considering the Community Shield to be a meaningless friendly, both the managers have the opposite view. In his press conference on Friday, Guardiola stressed the intensity of the fixture by saying: “It is a final, hopefully our mentality can help us to compete and try to win the title.”
His former apprentice Arteta quickly shared the sentiment as he replied in his own press conference that: “Very excited to play a final and have the opportunity to win a trophy, We’re playing the team that was the best team in Europe last season so we know what the standards are and what we’re going to need to win. Really excited.”
It has been evident from last year’s Premier League campaign as well as this season’s transfer market activities that Arsenal and Manchester City are in a new era of establishing a fiery rivalry. Both managers and their squads will be ready to deliver a vigorous performance to gain confidence for the upcoming 2023-24 season.