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Man City meets Chelsea in Community shield duel


[FILE] Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (C) is marked by Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger (L) and Chelsea’s English midfielder Danny Drinkwater during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on March 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony Devlin

They may be two of the biggest names in English football, they may be the last two Premier League winners, and they may be meeting in the traditional curtain-raiser for the new season, but today’s Community Shield match against Manchester City isn’t the start to Chelsea’s season. It’s not even the beginning to the beginning of the season.

Key players still won’t start, and we even have another meaningless friendly after it, against Lyon two days later on Tuesday (where we’re more likely to see serious minutes for said key players). Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, N’Golo Kanté, Oliver Giroud, and Gary Cahill are all only due back this weekend. They may get in a training session, maybe. More likely is that their first activity will be medicals and conditioning work.

Manchester City is much in the same boat. They sent 16 players to the World Cup (Chelsea sent 14), 11 of whom made it as far as quarterfinals. Guardiola has used ‘the youth’ for much of pre-season so far, and he’s also unlikely to deviate too much from that plan.

As usual, there will be no extra time if the scores are level after 90 minutes, and the penalty shootout is once again the ABBA system, rather than the standard ABAB that every other competition uses (including those that trialed the ABBA thing recently). Each team can use six of their seven named substitutes.

The referee in today’s match, Jonathan Moss — love him or hate him, Chelsea win a lot when he’s the man in the middle. We beat Swansea and Brighton under his supervision last season. Let’s hope we don’t get a replay of Bobby Madley’s madness from this same match last August, when he showed Willian a yellow for diving after Bellerin fouled him in the box.

Chelsea team news: Chelsea gazumped City for Jorginho, so that should add a bit of spice to what could be an otherwise unremarkable and (literally) friendly meeting, especially given the respectful, cordial, maybe even friendly relationship between the two head coaches.

Cesc Fàbregas managed to pick up a knee injury in the last game and was reduced to crutches for at least a couple days, so he probably won’t be fit to start. Sarri is planning on selecting an unchanged lineup otherwise, barring any further fitness or training issues, which should mean another start for 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, greased lighting personified. Sarri declared a public intention to win this thing — a slightly different tone from the “fun” message throughout July — and start his Chelsea career off on a good note.

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