Saturday 29th August 2020, 12:30 BST
Wembley Stadium, London, England
*Winners of the FA WSL and FA Cup
What kind of match can we expect?
As the current holders of the FA Cup, having beaten West Ham in the 2019 final, Manchester City is set to face the 2019-2020 FA WSL champions, Chelsea, in the first FA Community Shield since 2008 (won by Arsenal).
In: Esme Morgan (from Everton end of loan), Chloe Kelly (Everton), Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage - NWSL), Rose Lavelle (O.L.Reign - NWSL)
Out: Tessa Wullaert (RSC Anderlecht), Pauline Bremer (Wolfsburg), Matilde Fidalgo (S.L.Benfica), Emma Bissel (Bristol), Lee Geum-min (loan to Brighton & Hove Albion), Emma Bradley (Blackburn Rovers)
Manchester’s City Manager, Gareth Taylor, on the signings of Kelly and Mewis:
“Chloe’s done great. She’s so coachable. She’s a great girl to work with and she wants to do well. She’s come in seamlessly. That’s a big testament to the girls and the environment created for new signings.”
“It’s the same with Sam. She’s had a difficult period stuck in quarantine but fair play to her for coming out and putting a shift in after one training session with the group! That’s amazing but I expected that from her. You can see she’s a real team player. She played huge part in the American success in the World Cup.”
Manchester City chances
Before the Covid break in the FA WSL, Manchester City was actually first in the league with 40 points in 16 games, nonetheless, the FA decided to end the season without it being completed and instead award Chelsea with the Barclays FA WSL title, a decision based on point-per-game (Chelsea was one point behind City but still with a game to be played). Still, Manchester City ended their campaign in the FA WSL with 13 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats, scoring 39 times (2,44 goals per game) and conceding only 9 goals (0,56 per game), which demonstrates their defensive cohesion. Much of their defensive success comes from the solid performances of key players such as Lauren Hemp, Janine Beckie, Caroline Weir and Demi Stokes. Up front the team relies on the likes of Georgia Stanway, Ellen White, Pauline Bremer and the versatility of Beckie and Stokes who cover the majority of City’s defensive and attacking moves.
The 2019-2020 season turned out to be a bitter one for City as they also had an early exit from the UWCL, after being defeated by Atlético de Madrid in the round of sixteen (3-2 on aggregate). With the FA Cup yet to be decided, City turns to the new season hopeful and knowing that it will be a demanding one since they’ll be in 4 competitions. For now, their focus is on the revived Community Shield where they’ll have the chance to get their revenge from Chelsea. After the departure of Nick Cushing, their new manager Gareth Taylor (who will also be assisted by Jill Scott who’s taken a player-coach position) will try to get his first trophy with a squad whose quality improved substantially with the new summer signings. With solid performances in their pre-season matches, in the last one against Everton, the team demonstrated that it is ready to face their WSL opponents. Saturday, we should expect a strong Manchester City that is already playing at a high level showing that they’ve assimilated some of Taylor’s ideas which haven’t changed their dynamics as a strong collective, although the manager still feels there’s space for improvement.
Manchester City must be capable of overcoming Chelsea´s offensive power and for that, the Citizens should bet on a tight block to neutralize Chelsea´s creative midfield. The question lies in the formation City will showcase next Saturday, either a 4-4-2 formation, their most frequent one last season, or a 4-3-3, Gareth Taylor’s choice for the pre-season game against Everton and the one that seems to give City more opportunities to defend effectively (with the trio Walsh, Weir, Scott) and still create opportunities for their forwards Ellen White, Georgia Stanway and new addition Chloe Kelly to shine. Given the fact that the 2019 World Cup winner Sam Mewis has only played one game with her new team, it’s highly unlikely that she’ll start on Saturday. Most definitely out is Rose Lavelle who had to quarantine and there’s no official information that she has joined the squad in training. One thing’s for sure, Chelsea will have a tough opposition for this game and Manchester City won’t be intimidated by the current English champions even with the additions of Fleming and Leupolz.
Players to watch out for:
A breakout star of last year’s World Cup, Sam Mewis still played for the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL Challenge Cup last June/July before making her move to Manchester. Signing a one year contract, the American is stepping out of her comfort zone in her first adventure abroad and hopes to bring something new to a Manchester City squad that’s packed with talented midfielders. Sam is a versatile player that can easily flow her game from a more defensive position into an attacking effort with her quick dribbling and “aggressive mindset”, per her own words. Not only can we expect a lot of assists from her but also some goals as Mewis presence in the box is one of her main strengths. It’s still unclear if she’s ready to start for City since she just had her first training session on the 22nd of August. Nevertheless, the next day, she came in at half-time in the game against Everton and quickly made an impact with a goal and two assists. We can expect the same intensity and quality performance from Sam Mewis if she gets her first official minutes for City on Saturday.
The 22-year-old English international is one of the best young players in the game and a talent that is surely going to flourish in Manchester. Moving from Merseyside to Manchester, the striker scored 9 goals in 12 games for Everton last season and made three appearances for the Lionesses in the 2020 edition of SheBelieves cup. Manchester will be the perfect place for her to improve her game and learn from all the experienced players in the squad, especially England internationals Ellen White and Jill Scott. As a versatile forward who preferably plays on the left-wing, we can expect her to play a big part in City’s offensive efforts and given her ease in netting goals from outside the box, Kelly hopes to strike as many long-range goals as possible although she’s admitted she’s comfortable with the ball in her feet, dribbling past the defenders and getting into the box. We can expect Kelly to start for City against Chelsea even though she has the competition of her Lionesses teammate Lauren Hemp.
“These are the games you want to play in when there's a trophy up for grabs against a team like Chelsea. It doesn't get much bigger than that and hopefully we can come out on the right side”
“To be able to play Chelsea on Saturday at Wembley is fantastic.It will be unbelievable to play at the stadium, although still strange without fans.It’s important to play these type of teams going into season, which is going to be even more exciting and competitive.”
In: Melanie Leupolz (FC Bayern Munich), Jessie Fleming (UCLA Bruins), Niamh Charles (Liverpool LFC)
Out: Adelina Engman (Montpellier HSC), Deanna Cooper (Reading WFC), Ramona Bachmann (Paris-Saint Germain), Anita Asante (Aston Villa LFC)
Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, about the new signings:
“Melly Leupolz has shown us her experience and her class. She speaks English so she’s really settled in well with the group and I think she is a player who will be really popular with our fans.”
“Niamh Charles, I think she’s a little fighter. Every day she’s adapting to the levels and expectations and she’s demonstrated why we signed her.”
“Jessie Fleming has got really wonderful feet and has the ability to unlock things. She’s adapting to a physical environment in England but they’ve all settled in very well."
Last season of the FA WSL was a really great season for Chelsea. Despite the early end of the season, caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, it must be admitted that Chelsea deserved the championship title. Emma Hayes's side remained unbeaten in 15 games, recording 12 wins and 3 draws. The Londoners scored 47 goals (3.13 per game) and conceded 11 goals (0.73 per game) in the 19/20 FA WSL season.
The two formations Chelsea line up most often are 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, less often 4-2-3-1. Chelsea definitely prefers to play offensive and to be in possession of the ball, but they are also very good when it comes to the defense. The Bright-Eriksson duo is a pair of very solid center-backs. The current Chelsea captain, Magdalena Eriksson, has been growing into the leading figure of the London team for several years. The Swedish international is known for her fantastic presence in air-duels and for remaining very calm with the ball to her foot when constructing the team action from scratch.
But Manchester City's biggest concern in the cup match should be Chelsea's offensive power. In the midfield, Chelsea have creative Ji So-yun and Sophie Ingle. Welsh international played one of the best seasons in her career impressing with her solidity during each game. Adding to this the technical skills and versatility of Melanie Leupolz, the cooperation in Chelsea's midfield looks really promising. If Chelsea dominates the central area of the pitch against Man City, it will be hard for the Manchester team to win that game.
City should also focus on Chelsea forward - Beth England. In the 19/20 FA WSL season, English international played 15 matches in which she scored 14 goals. The revelation of the season at Chelsea, however, was Guro Reiten, who in her debut season scored 5 goals and recorded 8 assists into her account. Reiten brought a lot of quality to the Chelsea squad and adapted very quickly to the physical demands of the English league. Manchester City must be very focused because Chelsea will definitely want to attack. Despite the fact that City has been joined by the great names of women's football, such as world champions Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, Chelsea will definitely not be scared of their rival.
Players to watch out for:
No other player in the league has recorded more key passes in the 19/20 season than the Norwegian winger. Guro Reiten is a player who has had an invaluable influence on the Chelsea team. Reiten is also the leader of the rankings when it comes to shot-creating actions (72 throughout the season). Guro Reiten has the ability to create a lot of chances for her teammates. She is known for a great range of passing and a good awareness of what is happening around her on the pitch. Reiten quickly acclimated to the demanding physical conditions of English football and became one of the quiet leaders of the London team. Still a bit underrated, but proving in every game that she is one of the team's best signings in a couple of years.
Erin Cuthbert is considered as one of the best young players in the world. Despite the fact that this season was not as successful for her as the previous one, Erin Cuthbert is a crucial part of her team’s attacking force. While only being 21 years old, Cuthbert is a real powerhouse for Chelsea. She has the ability to play out on the wing, which combined with her vision and creativity in the midfield makes her a versatile player. Erin is very confident with the ball next to her foot and also not afraid of 1v1 duels. The Scot impresses with her high work rate and determination she shows in every game. Cuthbert is a true fighter, she may have a weaker moment in a match, but she's a player who will always fight to the end. The nature of the warrior, combined with the undeniable football skills she possesses, make the young Scottish player should be taken seriously. Moreover, in this game, she may play a significant role in the team and she has already done it many times at Chelsea during the last season.
“I’m extremely excited to open the season at Wembley against a top team. We’re working really hard and it’s a trophy to compete for. I take every trophy very seriously and we will be ready for it.”
"I’m so excited to play, it’s been a while and it’s a great fixture to start our campaign. Man City are one of the best teams in the league and probably Europe so it’s going to be exciting. Last year when I played in the game against them it was one of the most difficult matches, but we’ve been working really hard and we’re ready for it.”
Form Guide - Last five matches in the FA WSL
Manchester City: WWWWD
3-1 vs Everton (H) 11 Jan 2020
2-0 vs Birmingham City (A) 19 Jan 2020
2-1 vs Arsenal (A) 2 Feb 2020
1-0 vs Bristol City (H) 12 Feb 2020
3-3 vs Chelsea (H) 23 Feb 2020
6-1 vs Bristol City (H) 12 Jan 2020
4-1 vs Arsenal (A) 19 Jan 2020
8-0 vs West Ham United (H) 2 Feb 2020
2-0 vs Birmingham City (H) 12 Feb 2020
3-3 vs Manchester City (A) 23 Feb 2020
All in all, we think it's going to be a tight game with two teams that will try to impose their game, and with that, it may take a while for us to see any breakthroughs. We predict a battle for possession in the midfield which means that both teams must be very cautious with any loss of possession that can be turned into a dangerous opportunity by their opponent. It wouldn't surprise us if the game was to go to overtime or even to a penalty shootout given the quality of both teams who will surely gift us with an exciting match.