The traditional curtain raiser for the new Premier League season takes place this weekend, as last season’s FA Cup winners, Arsenal, take on the Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.
The match serves as a welcome game, which will probably provide goals, as it has consistently done in recent seasons, but in terms of the new season, the game means nothing at all. Talk of laying a marker, getting an early edge over a rival, or putting the first trophy in the cabinet is futile. The game will be played by two teams who are not fully fit and who are still missing numerous key players — how can anything be drawn from that?
The game will not give a true reflection of either team’s current standing, with Arsenal set to be missing the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Per Mertesacker, while City will play without Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negrado, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and, as the wait for official confirmation continues, supposed new signing Eliaquim Mangala.
Each team will be depleted — City a little more you would have to say — and still not at full fitness, so whatever the result happens to be, it will be misleading in terms of where the two teams really are ahead of the new season. The Community Shield games of recent years back that up too, as only one winner of the season opener in the last four years has actually gone on to win a trophy of any significance during that season.
Manchester United won the Shield last year, City won it in 2012, and then United again in the two years before that. Yet only United in the 2010-11 season backed up their Community Shield win with a legitimate trophy when the real business began. It’s still a game to tune in for and a game to enjoy, however, and there should certainly be plenty of goals on show from two talented teams.
In terms of the game’s significance, what will it reveal ahead of the new season? It will reveal nothing at all and it will bear no significance to what will actually happen over the next 10 months of the new Premier League season.