As I did with the Valerenga/Liverpool pre-season match, I'm going to "live" blog the Community Shield. Even though it happened this morning, I'm just now getting a chance to watch. But don't worry, I've been under the Cone of Silence all day so my reactions will be genuine.
And my first reaction is "WTF!?!?!?!" Kolarov starts over Clichy? I thought the one nailed on spot was going to be Clichy as the starting left-back for Citeh. If there's going to be rotation there... and it seems like there is now... I'm not so sure I want to gamble on either player starting against Swansea next week. Looks like I'm going to spend a similar amount of money on the real sure thing - Kompany.
So neither defence is as expected with Smalling lining up at right back. Maybe that's temporary as Rafael was injured but does make the bench. However, we saw Phil Jones line-up wide right last week and now Smalling. Is Sir Alex just exploring all his options or does he have Smalling on a short-list for the position?
Further forward, Welbeck lines up with Rooney while Berbatov continues to be a £30 million squad player. It will be interesting to see how Welbeck and Rooney dove-tail. Is the "Rooney needs to be a lead striker" argument over and replaced with the recently popular "he's more natural and effective playing behind the striker(s)"?
On to kickoff...
Lively start with good play from both sides. Rooney seems to be the furthest player forward for ManU. Young taking the first free-kick and Anderson starting a short-corner routine that almost comes off. For Citeh, Kolarov and Milner sharing corners with the Enlishman unable to clear the first defender on his attempt.
ManU look dangerous on the counter attack from Citeh's corners. I wonder if that's why Welbeck started over Berbatov. Anyway, Nani lively for not the first time and he feeds Welbeck who is taken down by Lescott.
Neither team exactly on the same page at the moment. Citeh keep losing out and turning the ball over while United are over- and mis-hitting passes.
Balotelli and Vidic square up in midfield.... that's a tasty matchup. I wonder what the bookies made of either (or both) of them seeing red today.
Rooney coming into midfield looking for the ball... Young definitely a right-footed player, even though he's made his living on the left... Carrick chips everyone and sails the ball right to Hart. The second 10 minutes of this match haven't matched the direct-ness of the first 10.
Dzeko lunges at Anderson, probably more out of boredom than anything, resulting in some afters. Dzeko first name in the book. Probably could have gotten good odds on that, though Anderson booked at the same time so maybe it doesn't pay out.
Now Richards cleans out Young on the edge of the area. He went flying in, studs up. Lucky it was one-footed and not two or it would have been red, not just yellow. Rooney and Nani over the resulting kick and Rooney sends a curler not far past the far corner.
Manchester United 0 - 1 Manchester City
After a scrappy period of play City win a free kick on the right. Silva takes as Milner runs off the ball. The switch seems to freeze United for a second and Lescott splits Ferdinand and Vidic to head past De Gea. Lescott has really taken advantage of Kolo Toure's suspension and has earned his starting spot in the center. And he does have a knack for scoring those goals, doesn't he?
Manchester United 0 - 2 Manchester City
Dzeko isn't closed down in the midfield and has a good shot from distance, probably more out of boredom than anything, and it flies into the bottom corner of De Gea's goal. Great shot, but ManU's backline was pancake flat and retreating. No one closed down the Dzeko and De Gea didn't have his near post covered.
ManU start the second half with Jones and Evans as their new center backs and Cleverly comes on in place of Carrick, who seemed a bit lost today. Maybe the injury was still bothering him... to be kind.
Manchester United 1 - 2 Manchester City
Ashley Young sends in the free kick and Smalling is left alone by Dzeko to direct the ball into the net. Poor defending as Dzeko let him run and Lescott had his back to the whole thing. Game on.
Manchester United 2 - 2 Manchester City
United, on a break, easily bypass City's three man midfield and weaving runs and one-touch passes between Nani, Cleverly, and Rooney ends up with Nani chipping Hart from a tight angle to tie the game! United have been running right at City this second half and it's paid off.
Manchester United 3 - 2 Manchester City
It had to come down to Fergie time!
Rooney clears from his own area and as he has been all game, Nani is the outlet. This time Kompany lets the ball bounce on the half-way line and Nani nips in and is off to the races. Kompany was the last defender back for Citeh! Nani heads straight for Hart and and the last second he cuts left, shoots right, and wins the match for the red half of Manchester.
What a finish. Great showing from Nani and Sir Alex has already promised he will keep his starting spot. I think we can bank on him next week. In fact, there's been a lot of quality on display -- and some real signs that the season hasn't kicked off yet from both sides. West Brom, nor Swansea, should provide too much opposition to these teams and provided we can guess the starting XI, there should be some fantasy points to be had.