From an ominous sign for Man City’s title rivals to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s spark for Chelsea, talking points from the Community Shield, where Sergio Aguero’s double won it for the Premier League champions…
City hungry for more
Of course, it would be wrong to read too much into a Community Shield result played in sapping conditions by players still feeling their way back to full fitness and without some first-choice team-mates. But one thing was clear on Sunday: this City team are still hungry for more success.
From Pep Guardiola’s passionate celebration of Aguero’s opener, to his exasperation at Ilkay Gundogan missing the chance to make it 3-0 deep into injury-time, this was not just some pre-season warm-up for the City manager.
That desire was matched by his team, who looked sharp, dominant and eager to assert themselves once again on English football as they rained 18 shots at the Chelsea goal.
From the brilliant Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez’s encouraging debut to John Stones starring at centre-back and, later, defensive midfield, City were brilliant across the pitch.
That’s an ominous sign for the other sides with title aspirations. It’s going to take a hugely impressive campaign to finish above this City side this season.
The last Community Shield winners to go on to win the Premier League title that season were Manchester United back in 2010/11.
Sarri needs time
Maurizio Sarri pointed out in the match programme Chelsea finished 30 points behind City last season and that, while Guardiola has enjoyed two seasons working with his squad, he is still yet to meet some of his players who featured late-on at the World Cup.
There is certainly plenty of work for the 2016/17 champions to do if they are to close the obvious gap to their successors. Chelsea didn’t touch the ball in City’s half until the 25th minute. Hudson-Odoi’s 35th-minute effort was their only strike on target in the match. This was a commanding City display.
There is a clear shift in Chelsea’s approach, though. Gone is the back three, replaced by a flat back four: the marauding wing-backs now cautious full-backs holding the line. But ahead of them is Jorginho, a central midfielder keen to dictate the tempo, and excitement on the flanks from Hudson-Odoi and Pedro, in spaces Eden Hazard is likely to thrive in. Now they need Alvaro Morata – a struggler on Sunday – to click.
Time is a rare gift at Chelsea and Sarri will hope to hit the ground running in the league. Fortunately for him, Chelsea will not run into a team of City’s calibre every weekend.
200… and 201 up for Aguero
It may be the start of a new season but Aguero remains as lethal in front of goal as ever, becoming the first Manchester City player in history to pass the 200 goal barrier with his double against Chelsea.
Left foot, right foot, it did not seem to matter for the Argentina ace as he took his tally at the national stadium to five – another City club record – and scooped the man-of-the-match prize.
Both goals came courtesy of fine team moves – and both were started by City’s centre-backs. First Aymeric Laporte made a bold pass into the impressive Bernardo Silva, allowing the Portuguese to spin and send Phil Foden away to tee up the opener. Then, in the second half, John Stones broke up a Chelsea attack in City territory before Gundogan drove a counter downfield and Silva played Aguero in again.
Sergio’s favourite opponents
10 of Sergio Aguero’s 201 goals in all competitions for Man City have come against Chelsea – only against Newcastle (14) has he scored more for the club.
In between there was a rare miss, with Aguero hitting the side-netting after rounding Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero, but make no mistake, City’s goal machine is looking sharp and the golden boot will surely be in his sights.
City put the pressure on Jorginho
There were loud cheers from the Chelsea end when Jorginho’s name was read out before kick-off – and plenty of jeers from the City end, too.
The Italian was wanted by Guardiola this summer but instead opted for a £50m switch to Stamford Bridge, to link up with his former Napoli boss Sarri.
The deep-lying playmaker was a key figure for Sarri in Serie A, making more passes than anyone else in the top five leagues last season. However, despite Jorginho racking up plenty of touches here, City’s high press restricted his options and on several occasions almost forced costly errors.
In the first half there was a mix-up with Cesc Fabregas, before Foden bundled him off the ball to set up an Aguero chance after the break.
Jorginho’s pass completion rate remained above 90 per cent, though – testament to his composure under pressure – and he will no doubt enjoy more dominant displays against the many Premier League teams unable to match the intense press of Pep’s men.
Chelsea’s attack was severely limited by City on Sunday – Morata’s tally of just 20 touches in almost 70 minutes of football was testament to that. But there was one man who had some success: the Blues’ thrilling teen Callum Hudson-Odoi.
An U17 World Cup winner with England, the winger was a real livewire on the left flank. With an impressive pre-season behind him, Hudson-Odoi’s confidence is clearly up and he was not afraid to attack his marker and cut inside to try his luck at goal, doing so twice in the first half.
Every trick and turn drew gasps of appreciation and excitement from the Chelsea end – they clearly appreciate they have a real talent on their hands. With Sarri suggesting the 17-year-old will remain part of his first-team set-up this season, could Hudson-Odoi finally be the academy breakthrough star Chelsea have been waiting for?
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