Community Shield Preview

This afternoon sees the traditional curtain-raiser to the Premier League season take place, as Manchester United and Manchester City prepare to lock horns in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.

Many fans will believe this is a chance to fully analyse two squads that many are tipping to be in the title race following a busy summer in the transfer market.

For United, the champions have been busy preparing for the long-term following the retirements and departures of some of their most experienced players.

The likes of Gary Neville, Edwin Van der Saar, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Owen Hargreaves have departed Old Trafford, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson with room to bring in younger replacements.

David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young may have cost a combined total of over £50 million, they will form part of the new cycle of the United side – something that Ferguson has plenty of experience in overseeing in the past.

However, while United will go into the new campaign as favourites to win their fifth title in six years, their ‘noisy neighbours’ (as Sir Alex likes to call them) have been putting the final touches on a squad looking to go from Champions League qualifiers to title contenders.

City boss Roberto Mancini has of course not been short of cash during his time in charge, and the Italian has acquired the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy to make them a more formidable outfit.

Having said that, the main talking point at Eastlands (sorry, the Etihad) this summer has been not attracting big names, but trying to keep their biggest.

Their captain and talisman Carlos Tevez has made it clear he wants to move closer to a family unwilling to uproot from South America to Manchester, and the Argentine has already seen a move to Brazilian side Corinthians collapse.

With growing reports of a move to Inter Milan being finalised, the club have given the 27 year-old more time off this weekend as other distractions weigh on his mind.

As with any other Manchester derby, there will be no love lost between two sides that form one of the great rivalries of the national game.

But before there was always the feeling of inferiority as City prepared to face a club that has now become the most successful domestic side in English football.

Not anymore; this is set to be the first battle between the sides in a season where both the blue and red half of the city have serious aspirations of lifting major silverware.

No more is it viewed by neutrals as just a derby. It is now seen as a chapter in deciding who could be at the summit come May, and today will just be the precursor to that. Let battle commence.

So what do you think? Will today’s game be the warm-up to two teams going head-to-head for the title? Or will the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal have a major say? Let us know your thoughts.

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