Sense of deja vu grips Community Shield rivals
LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - New-season optimism may be offset by old concerns for champions Manchester United and FA Cup holders Chelsea when they meet in the curtain-raising Community Shield at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
United will want to make amends for their 1-0 Cup final defeat by the Londoners in this match-up between the Premier League's top two teams in 2006/07, who are expected to push each other all the way again in the coming campaign.
However, United's hopes of revenge could hang on finding the right response to a disappointing defensive display against Inter Milan in a friendly on Wednesday.
"We were all over the place at times," was Sir Alex Ferguson's verdict on United's 3-2 home defeat by the Italian champions.
In a performance that recalled United's struggles to contain AC Milan in the first half of their Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford in April, Inter scored three first-half goals to send them to their first pre-season defeat.
Ferguson has not been alone in experiencing an unwanted sense of deja vu, with Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho pondering an injury to captain John Terry that puts his participation in Sunday's match in question.
The England skipper suffered a broken toe during Chelsea's U.S. tour and sat out the 2-0 friendly victory away to Danish club Brondby on Monday.
Terry's toe problem and Wayne Bridge's hip surgery are reminders of last season's defensive difficulties for Mourinho, whose planning has also been hindered by the delayed arrival of Brazil centre back Alex.
Chelsea supporters should still see some of their club's new signings and it could be particularly instructive to observe how midfielder Steve Sidwell fares after his impressive pre-season form since arriving from Reading.
United, by contrast, will almost certainly be without Owen Hargreaves and Anderson although their other new face, Nani, could play after recovering from the ankle knock that ruled him out against Inter.
Ferguson's team lost 2-0 when these rivals last contested the trophy in 2000. It did not stop them going on to win the title that season but Sunday's winners will undoubtedly claim an early psychological blow in the battle for supremacy in 2007/08.