Erling HaalandAnd the Kevin De BruyneAnd the Mohamed Salah And the Virgil van Dijk; Two world-class goalkeepers in Ederson And the Alison; It can be said that the two leading coaches in the match are Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. With plenty of talent on the top list and winning pedigrees between Manchester City and Liverpool, the Community Shield falls on Saturday (Streaming live on ESPN+ in the US at 12 ETMore than just a new season event, it’s a show of excellence that has become the defining game of English football.
Sure, the Manchester United-Liverpool match is still the game that sparks more global interest than any other Premier League game, but at the moment, it’s a far cry from the competition at the level. Liverpool beat United 9-0 on aggregate over two games last season, leaving the rivalry somewhat irrelevant in determining the outcome of title races and title battles.
The same applies to United against Arsenal. The two clubs dominated the Premier League for nearly a decade in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with one winning the title in nine consecutive seasons between 1995, 1996, 2003 and 2004, but a generation of fans have grown up without it ever since. Ever watch them hit it out for the title. The rivalry, if it still exists, has been reduced to determining qualification for the European League rather than the major titles.
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Liverpool vs Man City is now the Premier League’s headline, and this weekend’s Community Shield meeting looks more like a taste of the main event for the next nine months than a stress-free warm-up for the upcoming campaign.
Another eighteen teams will contest the 2022-23 Premier League season, but it is almost impossible to prove anyone’s argument except for City or champion Liverpool next May. The Community Shield will give us a glimpse of how far they have progressed in the pack.
Spurs have invested well this summer, giving manager Antonio Conte the reinforcements he demanded to be able to turn the squad into a title contender, but while the six newcomers – RicharlisonAnd the Ivan PerisicAnd the Yves BisomaAnd the grandfather spenceAnd the Forrester freezer And the Clement Lenglet Spurs have turned out to be better than the rest, and they are still far from the top spot. Meanwhile, Chelsea, under new owners following the departure of Roman Abramovich, appear to be on the brink of crisis as coach Thomas Tuchel complained about the lack of new signings and the preparatory performance of his current players.
United are an unknown number under new coach Erik ten Hag after the worst season ever in the Premier League. They brought Lisandro MartinezAnd the Christian Eriksen And the Tyrrell Malaciabut has not yet been able to convince the primary midfield target Frenkie de Jong To leave Barcelona, while Cristiano Ronaldo Still a distraction due to his desire to leave Old Trafford.
And despite Arsenal’s strengthening under Mikel Arteta, including signings Gabriel Jesus And the Oleksandr Zinchenko From City, Arsenal are still close to winning the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” in 2003-04.
City and Liverpool were already miles ahead – runners-up Liverpool finished 18 points behind third-placed Chelsea – and both have also strengthened over the summer, so their dominance is likely to extend over the coming months. The Community Shield would only offer a worrisome glimpse into the rest of their distance.
Both reshaped their squad this summer, losing two players who had contributed to success in recent seasons – Jesus, Zinchenko and Raheem Sterling They left the city with Sadio ManeAnd the Divock Origi And the Takumi Minamino Leaving Anfield – but such is the stability and consistency at each club that substitutes have been signed with a long-term focus.
Haaland and Calvin Phillips They arrived at the union – Haaland as a long-awaited replacement Sergio Aguero; Philips fills the void left by the late Fernandinho Less than 100 million pounds sterling. Both have been proven at the highest level, with 22-year-old Haaland already justifying that he is a talent for generations with Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg.
With Haaland’s goal threatened, City may have to change their game and become more direct to ensure he gets the service he needs, but with a serious focal point in their squad, any change is likely to make them better. In tight matches – the two league games against Liverpool ended in a 2-2 draw last season – Haaland could be the defining difference, especially in the Champions League.
The big challenge facing Liverpool is to ensure a smooth transition from Mane to Darwin NunezA summer contract worth £90m from Benfica. Mane scored 120 goals in 269 games for the club, and also scored 38 assists, so his £27m move to Bayern Munich would be a loss for Klopp’s side, but Luis Diaz He has already shown himself as a good addition since arriving for £37.5m from Porto in January, and the signing of Nunez continues Liverpool’s offensive development.
Meanwhile, Salah’s decision to sign a new contract this summer, and to end uncertainty over his future at the club, was a powerful boost that ensured Liverpool retained a player who could beat Haaland and win another Golden Boot this season.
Ali Moreno is jumping into Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez defense after the forward was subjected to some criticism last week.
It’s hard to find weaknesses in either team. Liverpool came close to achieving an unprecedented quadruple last season, while City once again demonstrated incredible quality and determination to fend off Liverpool’s challenge to win the Premier League title once again.
Arguably having each other as rivals pushes them forward – as happened with United and Arsenal during their peak years of rivalry – the key to success this season will undoubtedly boil down to who is better at the game against each other. If there is a winner when they meet at Anfield on October 15 or at the League on April 1, it will be an important outcome for the winner. And while the Community Shield isn’t classed as a big trophy, winning it will be important this weekend.
Klopp or Guardiola would welcome every advantage either side could gain. The rivalry between the two teams has been reduced to the best margins, so the psychological boost to Saturday’s win can’t be overstated – nor can the blow to lose.
Neither team will look over their shoulder at the pursuit group. Instead, they stare at each other, waiting for the first flash or sign of weakness. This is why the Community Shield is so important. Both managers and groups of players may want to suggest otherwise by downplaying the game, but every game counts now when Liverpool face Manchester City and this is no different.