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Community Shield preview: Chelsea and Man City start season off

Chelsea FC v Perth Glory

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 23: Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea runs onto the ball during the international friendly between Chelsea FC and Perth Glory at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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but wiThe perennial curtain-raiser has an interesting twist to it this season: one manager is making his debut.

Maurizio Sarri will take charge of his first competitive match with Chelsea, hoping to navigate Manchester City in the Community Shield and its weird not-really-that-important-but-still-silverware-if-you-want-it-to-be feeling fans wrestle with each August. The game will kick off at 10:00 a.m. ET on Sunday morning.

There’s plenty of excitement around the Community Shield fixture since fans are salivating for the return of club football, but also the teams involved never truly know whether to take it seriously or not. At the very least, it’s a good chance to get the first team on the field in a match with a competitive feel to it, setting the stage for the season to come.

Sarri has a unique opportunity in the match - to win a trophy in his first competitive match in charge, something not done by the new boss of an English club since David Moyes in this very competition in 2013, having taken over for Sir Alex Ferguson.

It will also be Chelsea fans’ first chance to see the team Sarri picks as first-choice. While it’s possible a few players could still make their way into the starting eleven as the beginning of the season rolls along, the team placed out on the field at Wembley on Sunday will be a major clue as to Sarri’s positional preferences and tactical style. Reuben Loftus-Cheek could see time after impressing in the England squad at the World Cup, while Willian has a tall task working back into club favor after a tumultuous summer.

Another young Brit could see time for Chelsea as Callum Hudson-Odoi could find himself with significant minutes in a competitive atmosphere after an impressive preseason. The 17-year-old was deployed on the left wing throughout the early run, especially against Arsenal a few days ago. With Eden Hazard still recovering from heavy World Cup lifting, the London product has the chance to impress on his biggest stage yet.

For Manchester City, a winger of their own has a massive opportunity to stake a claim. Riyad Mahrez has recovered from a slight injury to fitness, and will likely have the opportunity to put forth an argument for regular minutes. The former Leicester City regular has plenty of work to do if he wishes to see time among a squad exploding with attacking talent, but with Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling yet to return from extended post-World Cup leave, Mahrez has his chance.

The Blues also hope to buck recent trends and omens, having lost their last four Community Shield appearances. Of the four Premier League seasons that followed each of those four Community Shield losses, they failed to win the league in any of them, and finished outside the top four in each of the last two.

In addition, Chelsea has lost two straight to Manchester City in all competitions, and have not lost three straight since way back in 2010.

While there is plenty on the line in this match stuck in Premier League pergatory, most fans will just be happy with one simple thing - club football is back.

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