The passion… The excitement… The challenge to be the kings of the English Premier League is back. After a roughly two-month break, the Premier League season 2019-20 is knocking on the doors.
Right before though, is the Community Shield where this year, defending Premier League champions Manchester City will be up against last season's Champions League winners, Liverpool.
Formerly known as the Charity shield, the Community Shield is organized by the FA with the proceeds from the game going to charity organizations around the country. This year Wembley welcomes Manchester City and last season’s runners-up Liverpool. Below, we take a look at the five talking points ahead of the Manchester City – Liverpool clash.
#1. Trophy hunger
Last season saw Liverpool trailing Manchester City by just a point as City went on to clinch the Premier League title, whereas Liverpool excelled in the Champions League and walked out as European Champions. Both teams, having ended last season on a high, would like to pick up from where they left off.
In the past few finals they played in, Liverpool have been the most unlucky. They have seen both the 2016 Europa League and the 2018 Champions League slip from their hands. Winning their 6th European title in June this year could prove to be the added boost in their quest of trophies.
Manchester City, on the other hand, won the domestic treble in the last season. What could be better for them than to start this season by defending the Community Shield they won last year!
#2. Contrasting pre-seasons
It hasn’t been the best of pre-seasons for Liverpool. A US tour, after comfortable wins over Tranmere and Bradford, ended in a complete write off with three defeats and a draw. A summer camp to Evian with the return of star players Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Mohamed Salah saw them get back to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Lyon.
Manchester City had had a smoother pre-season campaign with three wins and a single defeat coming after a penalty shoot-out against Wolves.
With a more-accomplished pre-season than Liverpool, City will be oozing with confidence ahead of their fixture against Liverpool, who have had a good look at their shortcomings that need fixing.
#3. A dull transfer window
Having both won huge in the past season, Liverpool and Manchester City both had the opportunity to attract big names but neither of them really cashed in in this transfer window.
City’s only big signing has been Rodri from Atletico Madrid while they let go of both Fabian Delph and Vincent Kompany without addressing their defensive woes.
Liverpool have been no better, giving priority to retaining their important players. Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno went on a free and their only acquisitions were teenagers Sepp Van Der Berg and Harvey Elliot.
The Shield might give a better glimpse of how successful or unsuccessful either team’s transfer window has been so far or if there is business to be done before the start of the season.
#4. Just another pre-season match
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has recently stated as to how it would be ‘completely mad’ to judge his team for the result against Manchester City this Sunday. Though insisting that they want to win the trophy, it does raise a question over the importance of the Community Shield, given both teams could be without a number of key players.
The Liverpool boss has confirmed the absence of Sadio Mané, who has missed the entirety of the pre-season after the AFCON finals and it will be the same for Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
Brazilian stars Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker, along with Egypt star Salah find themselves running out of time to prove their match fitness, having merely returned days before the Community Shield. Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri are unlikely to be rushed out amidst fitness concerns.
Manchester City are in a similar situation with Ederson, Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho being unlikely to be match-fit for the Community Shield, having just returned after winning the Copa America. Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi could see themselves sitting out the match with Benjamin Mendy continuing his recovery.
#5. Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola
With the 2019-20 season about to start, the social media bickering has already started. Fans of both sides will be glad to use the Shield to launch themselves into debates as to who is the better coach; Pep Guardiola’s style of play has been vastly appreciated with the trophies speaking for itself while Jurgen Klopp’s transformation of Liverpool has been a growing project with the recent Champions League glory as proof.
Both managers have had bitter battles ranging from their Bundesliga times with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. They are no strangers to each other's ways of thinking and would look forward to flaunt another title in each other’s face.Published 04 Aug 2019, 01:20 IST