Premiership champions Leicester City take on Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley today for the traditional start-of-season showpiece with Jose Mourinho out to make a statement of intent as he looks to reinvigorate FA Cup champions United.
The 20-time top flight champions have bolstered their squad considerably in the summer, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic the capture that has attracted all the attention. United’s pre-season was disrupted by postponements in China, and results on the pitch have been mixed, with a 4-1 defeat against Borussia Dortmund a low point.
With fewer games than expected, Mourinho admitted he will use today’s encounter to give some players who are short of match practice some valuable minutes.
“We can make six substitutions instead of three, so that gives me the chance to give minutes to people,” Mourinho said. “It also gives me the chance to play some players I know can’t play 90 minutes, as they have no condition to play for 90 minutes.”
The doubters have been circling for most of the summer, but Claudio Ranieri refuses to let such talk of Leicester not being able to handle the heat at the top get to his side, and is relishing the chance to take on a stronger-looking United today.
“I forgot what happened last season,” Ranieri said.
“Now my focus is on the new season. We’re ambitious but know it will be very hard. This is not a friendly. We will give the maximum and also Manchester United will too. Both teams want to win it.”
While the loss of N’Golo Kante was a blow, keeping hold of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez will give fans a boost, and club-record signing Ahmed Musa looks to be in fine form ahead of the new season, with his stunning solo effort against Barcelona in their 4-2 friendly defeat getting Foxes fans fired up and ready to go.
Jamie Vardy faces a late fitness test ahead of today’s encounter. The England forward got through 45 minutes against Barcelona unscathed, and Ranieri revealed that he has been training well since. Otherwise, Ranieri has a full squad to choose from.
Mourinho has plenty of attacking options to chose from, but is likely to go with Ibrahimovic as the focal point of the attack, with Wayne Rooney just behind.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a long-term absentee with a calf injury, but Chris Smalling could play some part after working his way back to fitness from a muscular setback.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will almost certainly miss out, as he doesn’t appear to be in Mourinho’s plans, and is training on his own.