The curtain raiser to the English Premier League season takes place this afternoon as defending champions Leicester take on 2016 F.A. Cup winners Manchester United for the Community Shield at Wembley. Can Leicester pick up where they left off or will Jose Mourinho pick up his first piece of silverware as Manchester United manager.
For Leicester the focus will be on them and how they cope with the pressure that being champions will bring. The biggest battle for them this Summer has being trying to keep hold of the star players that delivered that sensational success last season.
They have managed to tie down Jamie Vardy to a new contract, while Riyad Mahrez is still at the club for now with constant rumours seeing him linked elsewhere but the biggest blow would have no doubt been the departure of French international N’Golo Kante to Chelsea.
Kante’s departure to Chelsea will leave a big hole in midfield one that will look to be plugged by his replacement Nampalys Mendy. Mendy will have big shoes to fill this season and Today’s encounter against Manchester United will be his first big test.
As for United, the focus will very much be on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the mercurial Swede has undoubtedly been there marquee signing and now he will have to make sure he lives up to the large amount of hype that surrounds him as English Football gets a closer look at him on a week to week basis.
He’s not United’s only bit of transfer business this Summer though with both Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan set to feature for the new employers at Wembley this Afternoon. It hasn’t quite been sweeping changes at Old Trafford for Mourinho but their will be a high level of expectation now that the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ is at the helm and that expectation will demand silverware.
The best way to begin to meet those expectations will be with a win at Wembley today and although Leicester are the Premier League champions it’s United that go into today’s game as favourites with most bookies having them at odds on to win the Community Shield.
Leicester lost 4-2 to Barcelona in the week so their preparations would have not been the best going into this game but as always you can’t read too much into pre-season friendlies especially as Barcelona were thumped 4-0 by Liverpool at Wembley yesterday.
The fact that Football would have been played less than 24 hours before this game at the same venue could bring the quality of the pitch into focus. The groundstaff would have been very busy last night to make sure that the surface is conducive to a high standard football.
And let’s hope it is as the Premier League season is just around the corner and this will be the last real opportunity for these two sides to prepare for their opening weekend fixtures. As for Today I’m going to go for United to win and Mourinho to get his first piece of silverware, but then again how many times were Leicester written off last season only to make fools of us all.
Regardless of the result, I hope it’s a good game as the wait has been too long. Enjoy it yourselves if you do watch later on Today.