Arsenal and Manchester City have both stressed the importance of getting their campaign off to a winning start in Sunday’s Community Shield.
The season’s traditional curtain-raiser at Wembley represents a chance for clubs to clinch some silverware, while fans are afforded the opportunity to see any new signings in competitive action for the first time.
Manchester City, victors over Chelsea two years ago at Villa Park, have recent experience of the occasion, but Arsenal’s last outing came back in 2005, on the back of their FA Cup triumph earlier that year.
That proved to be the London club’s last piece of silverware for nine years, that barren run ending in May with a 3-2 extra-time success over Hull City to secure a fifth FA Cup title under Arsene Wenger.
City, though, are riding the crest of an even bigger wave after regaining the Premier League title that they had lost to bitter rivals Manchester United the season before.
It provided a glorious climax to Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in charge and the Chilean has underlined how seriously he and his squad are taking this weekend’s clash.
“It is not a friendly match,” he said. “It is an important game against an important team in Arsenal.
“Maybe both teams, Arsenal and our team, do not arrive in our best moment because both have a lot of players who have just arrived from the World Cup but I think it will be a very good game and important for both teams to win it.”
Pellegrini revealed that new loan signing Frank Lampard would not play any part in the match following his arrival from New York City, while a host of players – including former Arsenal man Bacary Sagna – only joined up with the squad on Monday.
“Frank Lampard is not ready to play,” he said. “All the [other] players who arrived on Monday, [Martin] Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Sagna, Fernandinho and [Sergio] Aguero, they have a special pre-season this week and next week.”
Wenger bolstered his ranks with the high-profile addition of Alexis Sanchez during the transfer window, and the Frenchman is likely to put out a similar side to that which lost 1-0 to Monaco in the Emirates Cup last weekend.
“[The squad will be] completely similar [to Monaco] unless we buy someone before Sunday,” he said.
“It’s exciting for us to go back to Wembley. Ideally you want to start strong.
“We are not maybe ready physically but we should be better on Sunday. It’s a good test, good to play Manchester City because they are an interesting opponent.”
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