Who: Manchester City vs. Chelsea FC
What: Previous EPL season winner vs. FA Cup holders
Where: Villa Park
When: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Time: 13:30 p.m. BST/8:30 a.m. ET/5:30 a.m PT
TV: ITV (UK), FSC (USA)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Odds: Manchester City +110, Chelsea +230, Draw +230
Total: Over 2½ -125, Under 2½ -111
The last time these two clubs each played a meaningful game they both made history.
For Chelsea, it was winning their first UEFA Champions League title by defeating Bayern Munich in a memorable penalty kick shootout.
Though the stakes aren’t quite as high on Sunday when Chelsea and City meet in the EPL season’s traditional curtain raiser, the Community Shield, you can be assured both clubs will desperately want to try to start their seasons off on the right foot.
With Wembley Stadium unavailable as it hosts the Olympic soccer final the night before, Villa Park in Birmingham is the site of this year’s match which features one side that have made a lot of offseason moves, and another that haven’t.
Manchester City’s roster in 2012-13 will look much like last season, while Chelsea are in the midst of a overhaul with guys like Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa gone and others like Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Oscar now at Stamford Bridge.
Manager Roberto Mancini and the Sky Blues come into this game winners of four of six preseason friendlies, while Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo and his European champions enter this battle on a three-game losing streak, the latest a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brighton on Saturday.
Losing Drogba, and working with a handful of new signings means Di Matteo's side may be experiencing some growing pains presently, and the Blues' last three matches have certainly shown that.
On the other hand, City need to change very little and will continue to bask in the glow of the league championship—secure in the knowledge they have a roster loaded with more firepower than anyone else in the EPL.
Both teams here may look a little rusty at first and considering the time of year and the situation, I expect a fairly slow and conservative pace in the first 45 minutes.
By the second half, the simple reality of Chelsea not wanting to lose its opener to Manchester City and Manchester City not wanting to lose its opener to Chelsea will emerge and the match will become very entertaining.
With Fernando Torres still a big question mark up front for Chelsea, and Manchester City having a number of talented guys fighting for the same position, I have to give Mancini's men the edge.
Chelsea had trouble creating and converting on quality shots on goal against the MLS All-Stars, AC Milan and Brighton—scoring just three goals in three games—and against a quality defensive club like City (which allowed an EPL-low 29 goals), and a goalkeeper of Joe Hart's quality to beat it will be just as difficult if not harder.
Expecting Mata, Torres, Ramires and all the new Chelsea midfielders to jell will definitely take some time, so siding with a Manchester City club who know each other better is the more logical way to approach this intriguing matchup.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 2 Chelsea 0
BETS: Under 2.5 -111, Manchester City +110
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