Manchester City: How do you stop the unstoppable?
Last updated: August 6, 2018 by Leon Marshal
The Premier League is just days away and while we count down the hours, the traditional curtain raiser, the Community Shield provided a chance to assess how runaway champions Manchester City would fare against FA Cup winners Chelsea.
With the World Cup still fresh in our minds and heavy on the players’ legs, it was never going to be a full strength line-up from either team. But with a new man in charge at Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s desire to build on a remarkable Premier League campaign, the game was bound to give an insight into the upcoming season.
Chelsea, as expected, had a change in tactics as the new manager switched to a 4-3-3 formation, with Marcos Alonso playing at left back and Cesar Azpilicueta as the right back. Perhaps the most interesting inclusion to the team was that of David Luiz, who was benched for almost the whole of last season, pairing up with Antonio Rudiger.
New signing Jorginho was the heart of the midfield alongside Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley. Alvaro Morata, who has been subject to much speculation regarding his future, led the attacking line with Pedro and youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi. Willian was available but started on the bench.
Manchester City fielded a strong side with World Cup winner Mendy heading back early to feature alongside The Three Lions duo of Kyle Walker and John Stones. £60m Riyad Mahrez made his first competitive appearance on the right wing while PFA Young Player of the Year Leroy Sane made strides on the left with Sergio Agüero leading the lines.
City draw first blood
The match sprung to life early with Manchester City’s all time goal scorer Sergio Agüero hitting his 200th goal in the 13th minute from a Phil Foden assist.
Manchester City did not play their usual dominating football, only managing 52% of the possession compared to Chelsea’s 48%, but they were the more clinical side with 8 shots on target out of 14 while Chelsea only managed one out of four.
The Argentine Agüero, with a man of the match performance, bagged a second and his 201st goal for the club to put the match beyond Chelsea’s reach in the 58th minute. Pep Guardiola would have surely wanted to take the lethal striker off the pitch but allowed City’s all-time leading scorer to try for his hat trick, a feat he nearly achieved from a volley but the keeper was equal to it, able to punch the shot out at the cost of a corner.
The match ended 2-0 in favour of the reigning champions. Chelsea will of course point to the fact that they are just two weeks into the Sarri era, while Manchester City are 2 years into Guardiola’s reign, but the worrying sign for Chelsea fans was the fact that they were completely outclassed in every aspect in this match.
Manchester City key-points
The Community Shield is not seen as the achievement it once was and rival fans are often very vocal in their mocking of any supporter that brings up the competition. The truth is, however, that you either need to win the league or the FA Cup to even take part so there may well be a degree of jealousy in that mockery.
Back in 1984, 100,000 spectators packed the old Wembley to watch the match between Liverpool and Everton. It may not be the most popular of events, but for many it is a barometer of the forthcoming season and at very least a reward for the fans for the success from the year before.
So while there is unlikely to be an open top bus parade through the streets of Manchester, City made their intentions clear and sent out a statement that they are still the team to beat. Worryingly for the rest of the teams, they show no signs of weaknesses in the side. This was even without a host of key players such as Kevin De-Bruyne, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus, and Raheem Sterling in the side.
Chelsea manager Sarri had a bad start to his career as Chelsea manager. This was however with players who had never played together, in a position and a system that they were unfamiliar with, which will take time for them to adjust to. The match showed the amount of work needed to be done by the new manager for the team to be title contenders.
It did also show the great quality and potential in new signing Jorginho, who will prove to be a really important player for the team. Him pairing up with with Fabregas and Kante is an exciting prospect. No doubt Pep will wonder how his club failed to sign a player who was so closely linked with City for much of the summer.
The match came four days before the transfer deadline and the goalkeeping situation could be very much at the front of Sarri’s thoughts. He is likely to be thinking about Wilfredo Caballero’s World Cup horrific error in Argentina’s match against Croatia, if Thibaut Courtois does make his much speculated move to Real Madrid from Stamford Bridge, who can he find to replace him at short notice? Remember the Europeans can still sign players from England even after the English transfer deadline.
Of equal concern must be the striker situation. Despite Álvaro Morata starting well last season for Chelsea, he is almost becoming Fernando Torres like for Chelsea on current form, only managing one shot off target in the game. Backup striker Oliver Giroud may have just won the World Cup but did not score a goal in the entire tournament. Chelsea’s rumoured main target Gonzalo Higuaín decided against a move to London and is already settled in Italy with a move to AC Milan.