Charity Shield Preview: Manchester United vs. Chelsea FC

A trophy that is important (i.e. not the Community Shield).

Time: 3:00 PM BST (7:00 AM PST), Sunday August 8th. 

Location: Wembley Stadium, London.

People who care: 0

What it is: The Charity Shield (aka the Community Shield) marks the beginning of the season for top-flight English football. Described as 'the pre-season showpiece of English football' by those with a rather developed sense of irony, the Shield features the winner of the Premier League against the current FA Cup holders. Since Chelsea currently posses both titles, they will be playing the league runners-up, Manchester United. While the Shield is widely considered to be a warmup game for teams and players (with all the fire and quality one might associate with a pre-season friendly), all the proceeds go to charity, which is nice.

Why it matters: Well, by and large, it doesn't. This has no impact on the league or any cups, the trophy itself is a bit of a joke, and it's not like the charities will get less money should Manchester United win. The game is rarely particularly good, unless for some reason you're a fan of draws and then penalty shootouts. The pitch at Wembley is so bad as to be injurious, which further reduces the spectacle at the national stadium, and I should probably reiterate that the game is totally and utterly meaningless. About the only reason I can think of to watch it is that it'll be interesting to see how Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien (both projected to be in the starting lineup) hold up. I'll probably be watching, but only because having any football on is better than zero football. Or I might be asleep.

Lineups:

United: TBA

Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario, Cole-Terry-Ivanovic-Feirrera, Lampard-Mikel-Essien, Malouda-Anelka-Kalou.

Chelsea's injury list includes Petr Cech, Alex, and Jose Bosingwa, leaving the team looking less than ideal at the back. Dider Drogba, recovering from a groin injury, will apparently be fielded as a substitute. United will be unable to field a bundle of players, including left back Patrice Evra and centre half Rio Ferdinand. Michael Carrick and Anderson are also out, presumably due to a chronic lack of talent. Expect to see Wayne Rooney show up at some point and look like a totally different player to the sluggish lump of meat we saw at the World Cup. Also expect United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to look eerily like my father while his Chelsea counterpart Carlo Ancelotti looks eerily like my childhood teddy bear.

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