The Community Shield match against Man Utd on Sunday will be very interesting as we will see who Ancelotti picks for his first official diamond formation.
Or maybe not, as the new £18m signing Yuri Zhirkov is unlikely to be available. Malouda is the obvious candidate to play on the left in his absence. Frank Lampard is guaranteed to be the attacking midfielder behind Anelka and Drogba.
For the other two spots i think we will have Essien on the right and Obi Mikel in the middle.
Ancelotti explained yesterday why he thought that Zhirkov will be the only doubt for the game with a knee injury: “Zhirkov is the only player that has a little problem, he didn’t train in the last days and I don’t know if he can play Sunday,”
“Maybe we have to wait two days, we have training today and tomorrow and we can see if it is possible for him to play. He has a little problem to his knee, and has to stay out today – maybe he can try to train tomorrow. I expected from him to put for the team his quality, he is a very good player and runs very well but he has to have time.
“We had a little problem with Ashley [Cole] but he can train today and tomorrow and he will be ready to play on Sunday.”
So, other than Zhirkov (and Joe Cole of course), Ancelotti has his whole squad to choose from. It will also be informative to see if he chooses Alex or Carvalho to play alongside John Terry in the middle of defence, and if he chooses Bosingwa or Ivanovic on the left. The right side looks to be Ashley Cole if he recovers okay.
Man Utd are not so lucky with injuries for this season opener, but Ferguson rarely plays his best team for this game. He has to choose between Ben Forster and Kuszack in goal with Van Der Sar out for a couple of months. Both played 45 minutes each in the 2-0 win over Valencia.
“I will speak to both of them about the situation,” said Ferguson.
“We have a selection dilemma as to who plays in goal on Sunday. It is not an easy one for me.”
Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Gary Neville are also missing from the United defence, but Ferguson will still have Ferdinand, Evra, Evan’s and O’Shea ready to fill the breach.
Ferguson was very pleased with the performance of the Brazilian striker Macheda last week, so he might get another chance to shine, while Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney will also be begging to start up front.
United fans will also be eager to see the official debut of Antonio Valencia in the team.
This will be an amazing 13th appearance in this fixture for Ryan Giggs as he continues to break records wherever he goes.
Neither Ferguson or Ancelotti will be playing this as friendly warm-up to the new season, and both sides will be playing to win. Ferguson said: “In the past I’ve treated the Community Shield as a barometer for fitness and giving players some minutes on the clock,”
“This year I’m not looking at it like that. All the players are already at a good level fitness-wise and when you play Chelsea, pride comes into it and the players want to win.”
Ancelotti echoed that when he said: “It is not a friendly game, it is a very important game for us.
“We play against a great team, because Manchester is a great team, they had a Final of the Champions League last season and we have respect for this team but we want to win and play well.
“We want to put our quality on the pitch, and I think it will be an interesting match.”
So we have the making of a very exciting game, but hopefully played in a friendly manner befitting two such great clubs.
Chelsea (from): Cech, Hilario, Turnbull, Belletti, Alex, Terry, Carvalho, Mancienne, Bosingwa, A Cole, Ballack, Sturridge, Mikel, Deco, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba, Ivanovic, Kalou, Ferreira, Malouda.
Man Utd (from): Foster, Kuszczak, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Gibson, Nani, Giggs, Rooney, Owen, Berbatov, Macheda, Tosic, Fabio, Cleverley, De Laet.