London: Chelsea and Manchester United meet in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday hoping to collect silverware in their first game of the season.
The Blues secured their first ever Double last season when an emphatic 8-0 win over Wigan Athletic won them the league title for the first time in four years, before a 1-0 victory against Portsmouth at Wembley saw them win the FA Cup for the second successive year.
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will be looking to emulate their achievements of the season before last, when they won the Premier League to complete a hat-trick of titles. Last season saw them win the League Cup and finish runners-up to Chelsea in the Premier League, so they will be determined to go at least one better than that.
Their task may prove to be more difficult this season, though, as rivals Manchester City have strengthened over the summer and are ready to launch a genuine title challenge.
Both sides have had an indifferent run-up to the new season with players joining up at different times due to their World Cup commitments, but both Carlo Ancelotti and Ferguson have added new players to their squads.
Chelsea have brought in Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool for a fee believed to be in the region of £6 million, and are expected to complete the £18m signing of Benfica’s Ramires in the next few days, while United have signed youngsters Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez for undisclosed fees.
Ancelotti’s side have had a poor pre-season results wise. A 1-0 win over Crystal Palace has been followed up by three consecutive defeats away to Ajax, Frankfurt and Hamburg, prompting criticism of Ross Turnbull, Hilario and John Terry for defensive errors made in these games.
Manchester United began their pre-season with a tour of America where they beat Celtic, Philadelphia Union and the MLS All-Stars, but losses to Kansas City Wizards and Guadalajara prevented them from leaving the States unbeaten.
A 7-1 win over a League of Ireland XI in midweek sends the Red Devils into Sunday’s clash on form and they will be looking to get one over on the Blues, who beat them on penalties at Wembley in last season’s Community Shield.