It is the being billed as the biggest English FA Community Shield mismatch ever and punters should not be afraid to bet on Manchester United running out extremely comfortable winners against local rival Wigan at Wembley Stadium.
Not since West Ham in 1980 has what is known now as the English FA Community Shield featured a team from outside England’s top flight. Wigan qualified for the showpiece event by upsetting Manchester City 1-0 in last season’s English FA Cup final. The bad news for Latics fans is that the gap between English football’s have and have nots has grown appreciably since the advent of the English Premier League in 1992 and the increase in television revenues.
West Ham made a decent fist of its Wembley Stadium game versus Liverpool – Reds midfielder Terry McDermott scored the only goal of the match in the 17th minute after Phil Parkes could only parry Alan Kennedy’s long-range effort – but Wigan will be lucky to leave the national venue with anything close to a 0-1 loss against Manchester United.
First, do not get too excited by Wigan’s 4-0 away victory over English Championship side Barnsley. The Tykes have followed up their big loss to the Latics with an English Carling Cup home goalless draw with Scunthorpe, only progressing by virtue of a penalty competition win.
Second, Wigan has bid farewell to several of its English FA Cup final-winning side, with Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone and Joel Robles all deciding to link up with Roberto Martinez now that he is managing Everton instead.
Third, Manchester United has an outstanding head-to-head record versus Wigan. The Red Devils have won 16 of their 17 games against the Latics, including both of last term’s English Premier League derbies by a 4-0 margin. In only five matches has Wigan rustled Manchester United’s onion bag.
Fourth and, perhaps, most importantly of all, Manchester United will be desperate to make a statement of intent by crushing Wigan in the English FA Community Shield because, as the Red Devils start life without Alex Ferguson, their major rivals for domestic honours – Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City – are looking for any sign of weakness.
Some football fans view the English FA Community Shield as a glorified friendly game and, in most seasons, that is a more than reasonable assessment. This term is different, though. Manchester United needs a result to send out a message to those teams that will spend the next nine months trying to knock it off its perch. And David Moyes needs a result.
Opinions are divided as to whether Moyes will succeed or fail. But about which there is no doubt is that a picture of Moyes celebrating a trophy triumph – albeit a minor one – will alleviate some of the pressure. Remember, Moyes has never won a significant piece of silverware in his career so he needs to prove that he can win things on the big stage.
The pick of the English FA Community Shield bets is a punt on Manchester United leading the match at both half time and full time. Some bookmakers are taking a view on this market, with odds of 1.87 available to backers at BetVictor. That looks too good to ignore, with the Red Devils sure to run out at Wembley Stadium having received a pep talk from Moyes.
Manchester United to beat Wigan in normal time and keep a clean sheet is another attractive play. It is odds against because the best price available from bookmakers is around the 2.10 mark. Punters looking to improve their potential returns could back, say, the Red Devils to win 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0 and obtain dutched odds in the region of 3.50 all coming from BetVictor!
However, a note of caution: Manchester United has scheduled Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial game versus Spanish La Liga side Sevilla for just two days before the English FA Community Shield. One would think that the match in honour of the Red Devils defender would be little more than a gentle kickabout but refrain from placing English FA Community Shield wagers until the final whistle goes at Old Trafford on Friday.