Published: 10:07 07/08/2011
Premier League title contenders Manchester City and Manchester United lock horns in the Community Shield with both teams looking to set down a marker for in the battle for this season’s honours.
Online bookmakers are giving free bets to new customers and they can be used to bet on Premier League football, get a free football bet when placing a bet on Manchester City v Manchester United.
The traditionally curtain-raiser is a supposed to be a ‘friendly’ showcase affair, but the rivalry between the clubs promises a spicy encounter with local pride and silverware at stake.
United are favourite to win the first head-to-head which is held on neutral territory at Wembley. William Hill and Paddy Power are offering odds of 7/5 for the Premier League champions to claim early bragging rights while SkyBet’s 12/5 is the best price for big-spending City.
This is an all too familiar stage for the Red Devils who have contested 14 of the 19 Community Shield matches since the Premier League began whereas the Blues last ran out for the Charity Shield in the 1973.
United have the edge on experience and have a score to settle after Roberto Mancini’s team clinched a 1-0 Wembley victory in the FA cup semi-final in April before going onto lift the trophy.
That was City’s first major trophy in 35 years and having invested heavily in building a squad to challenge for honours on all fronts, Mancini is expected to field a strong side in an attempt to land the first trophy of the season.
The Italian tactician is likely to start with £50 million of firepower up front, pairing Mario Balotellli and Edin Dzeko in the absence of Carlos Tevez. Record signing Sergio Aguero will warm the bench after having his pre-season was interrupted by blistered feet but could get a run out at some stage. Balotelli is available at odds of 8/1 with SkyBet to score the first goal and if he promised to put aside his showmanship for a more clinical approach to his finishing, would represent good value.
Sir Alex Ferguson has presided over a busy pre-season campaign and may choose to rest some of his stars before the Premier League kicks off next weekend. Michael Carrick with a tight Achilles and Rafael who picked up a knock last weekend are prime candidates to sit out the match, while last season’s strike sensation Javier Hernandez is facing up to three weeks out after suffering a concussion during the tour of the United States.