A correct score punt that could get your season off to the best possible start...
Community Shield: Leicester v Manchester United, Sunday 4.00pm, Sky Sports 1
Football fans rejoice – it’s back! The season’s annual curtain-raiser, the Community Shield takes place on Sunday at Wembley and Jose Mourinho goes head-to-head with the man he replaced at Chelsea many moons ago, Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri’s Leicester side were the most unlikely of league winners last season – nobody needs reminding of their 5000/1 odds, ‘dilly-ding dilly-dong’, or that Jamie Vardy look-a-like who managed to turn up at every event going during a bizarre month of May. Manchester United now have Jose Mourinho at the helm, as despite lifting the FA Cup, another miserable league campaign ended up costing Louis van Gaal his job.
So ahead of one of the most highly anticipated and open Premier League seasons in recent memory, Leicester and Manchester United will battle for the Community Shield – and this shot could get your season off to a flyer.
Bar Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea 12 months ago, we’ve been recently blessed with some high-scoring thrillers in the Community Shield and we’re hoping for more of the same at Wembley. In the last 15 years 60 per cent of matches have had over 2.5 goals, and both teams have found the net in 10 of the 15 clashes.
While Leicester are making their Community Shield debut, Manchester United have been in a record 29 – and some of their recent ones have thrown up plenty of goals. In 2011 they beat rivals Manchester City 3-2 courtesy of a 94th minute winner from Nani (!) while a year earlier they beat Chelsea 3-1. In 2009 they also played out a cracking 2-2 draw with Chelsea which ended with the blues winning on penalties.
Since a painful 0-0 draw between Manchester United and Portsmouth in 2008 we’ve had seven Community Shield matches which have thrown up 24 goals – at an average of 3.4 a game. And with neither team particularly excelling defensively Sundays clash shouldn’t disappoint.
In the last week Leicester have shipped eight goals against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions Cup, while Manchester United’s pre-season included conceded four in defeat to Borussia Dortmund in China and then playing out a crazy 5-2 win over Galatasaray in Sweden.
Goals look likely and both teams to score at looks a nice price, as does the on over 2.5 goals. Just 45 per cent of United’s games in the league last season featured over 2.5 goals – the second lowest tally in the top flight – but this could be a more open affair and there are still plenty of question marks over United’s defence, despite the £30m signing of Eric Bailly from Valencia.
Jose Mourinho has won just one of his four Community Shield appearances but the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan give the Red Devils plenty of attacking options. The Foxes themselves splashed £16.6m on Ahmed Musa from CSKA Moscow and he announced himself to Premier League fans with a tidy brace against Barca on Wednesday night.
Man United are the favourites to win in 90 minutes, with Leicester at and the draw is a shot. The on United to win 3-1 might tickle your fancy though, with both teams showing plenty of holes at the back but Mourinho’s attacking options giving the FA Cup holders the edge.
A word of caution however – just five of the last 15 Community Shield winners have gone on to lift the title that year, so if you’re eyeing up short-term success you’ll have to break the trends to bag long-term glory.