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Close encounters

United still the favourites, but City are closing in

Ed Chamberlin - Ed Chamberlin Posted 4th August 2011 view comments

Holiday over and back to work. I'm really looking forward to getting started at Wembley on Sunday presenting the FA Community Shield between Manchester United and Manchester City.

Rarely have I looked forward to a 'friendly' more than this one as there are so many sub-plots to the game and so many quality players on show.

Add to that the new faces on both sides, who will have key roles to play in the forthcoming season, and you have a potent mixture. David De Gea who has huge gloves to fill in goal for United and Sergio Aguero who may have to fill Carlos Tevez's giant boots.

United: will be celebrating again, according to the odds

United: will be celebrating again, according to the odds

Sky Bet have United as their 5/4 favourites for Sunday's contest with the draw and City both 9/4. Man Utd are 8/11 to lift the Shield, City are even money.

These sides have met once before in this fixture - champions Man Utd beat Cup winners Man City 1-0 at Maine Road in October 1956 with a goal from Dennis Viollet. United went on to win the title that season with City finishing 18th. This is Man Utd's 28th appearance in the Sheild - a record. They have won it outright a record 14 times (they have also shared it on four occasions).

There is little to choose between these two sides and I think Sunday's game will be very tight and can easily see the match going to penalties. If the game is level after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will decide the winners (there will be no extra-time).

Ed Chamberlin
Quotes of the week

This is the seventh time the Community Shield has been contested by two teams from the same city - the last time was in 2005 when Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Millennium Stadium.

In total, the Charity/Community Shield has had three all Liverpool finals (1966, 1984 and 1986), two all London finals (other was when Arsenal and Tottenham shared the trophy in 1991) and one all Manchester Final.

It's interesting that in the last four years, the winner has gone on to win the Premier League (Man Utd winners in 2007, 2008 and 2010; Chelsea 2009). Sky Bet have Manchester United as their 13/8 jollies to retain their title with Manchester City the 4/1 third favourites.

I think these two will fight it out for the Barclays Premier League title this season and the bet I like is United to win it with City finishing second. The straight forecast is a 5/1 chance with Sky Bet. More on that next week.

There is little to choose between these two sides and I think Sunday's game will be very tight and can easily see the match going to penalties. If the game is level after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will decide the winners (there will be no extra-time).

Seven previous Community/Charity Shield games have been decided by penalties, including three of the last four. Five of Utd's last eight wins in the Shield have been won by a penalty shoot-out, including four of the last five. Both sides are 11/2 chances to win on pens.

It should be an entertaining afternoon and I hope you can join myself, Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville on Sky Sports HD1 from 2.15pm on Sunday. The game is also available in 3D.

Hectic

Joey Barton has been hogging the headlines this week but both the Manchester sides still feature heavily in Sky Bet's 'Transfer Specials' section on their website and new i-Pad app, which currently has 50 live markets.

The Carlos Tevez saga rumbles on but he's still 4/11 to join Inter Milan before the window closes, while they rate Manchester United at 1/5 to capture Wesley Schneider. It's going to be a hectic three weeks for the Sky Sports News presenters and Sky Bet odds compilers with plenty of twists and turns to come before the Transfer Window closes on August 31st.

The downside to being abroad last week was missing some sensational sport. Frankel's brilliance at Glorious Goodwood and England's heroics at Trent Bridge sounded like two of those rare events to tell your grandchildren about. Sadly neither my young children or the local Portuguese shared my enthusiasm for either.

Frankel is well on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats, while Andrew Strauss's side is already being talked about as one of the best England sides. They are now one win away from being the number one side in the world and just 11/4 with Skybet to win this series 4-0. India are in a mess, England are on a roll and I can see nothing other than another home victory at Edgbaston next week, which is an 11/10 chance with Skybet.

Finally, excitement has been building across the country now that there's less than a year to go until the start of London 2012 and in 364 days time the athletics programme will be getting under way.

This day next year (August 4th) we all hope Jessica Ennis will be receiving her gold medal. Ennis is expected to be the face of the Games and is just 11/10 with Sky Bet to win the Heptathlon. However, that same day I have a feeling Mo Farah may upstage everyone.

He's risen rapidly up the ranks this year and is currently the world's number one distance runner on the track. He's likely to double up over 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Daegu later this month but his main emphasis will be on the latter, which comes first in the schedule as it will in London. If Farah wins the 10,000 in South Korea Skybet's 4/1 on him repeating the trick for Olympic gold in 365 days time won't last.

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