Chelsea played Manchester City at Wembley in the Community Shield on Sunday. Here are three key points from the match.
Manchester City were victorious in their first “competitive” match of the season, beating Chelsea 2-0 in the Community Shield.
The match is a glorified friendly, but it certainly didn’t lack intensity or a competitive edge. City established control early on and won relatively comfortable thanks to two goals by Sergio Aguero. Here are three things we learned from the match.
Manchester City continue their dominance
Pep Guardiola set up his team in the customary 4-3-3, which was used to dominate the Premier League last season. They started the game with intensity to try and unsettle Chelsea and pressed high with certain triggers such as a bad touch or a player turning back to his goal. Every goal kick was seen as an opportunity to test Willy Caballero’s footwork.
They went ahead early in the first half with the type of goal that has become traditional for City under Guardiola. They played through Chelsea with crisp passing and went from back-to-front quickly without the ball going off the ground. One pass from Aymeric Laporte broke through the Chelsea midfield three to find Bernardo Silva, who quickly moved the ball on to Phil Foden between the lines; he drove at the defense and passed to Aguero, who turned intelligently and fired the ball into the corner as the Blues were slow to close him down.
There were a number of key players missing, such as Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Ederson. This wasn’t an issue because of the system that has been implemented at the club with all the players schooled in the key principles of positional play.
Riyad Mahrez was a great example of this because he looks comfortable in the side even though he joined the club in the summer. He worked well with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy as he switched sides after the substitution of Leroy Sane at halftime. His only issue was end product.
Aguero was the villain at the start of the second half, missing an easy chance after Bernardo Silva played him in. City saw the game out after that and had numerous chances to extend their lead. The scoreline doesn’t reflect how much of a comprehensive display it was from the Premier League champions. They look strong going in to the new season.
Chelsea show promising signs
The key elements of Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy can be seen in Chelsea’s play, although there’s plenty of room to develop. Jorginho will be a key player for Chelsea, and the successful implementation of Sarri’s system, because he’s the conduit for their play. Without him, they would have severe issues playing out from the back as well as playing through a press.
There was a clear continuation from Sarri’s time at Napoli because he used a 4-3-3 with a focus on playing out from the back and a compactness vertically in order to ensure that there were plenty of options for the player in possession. However, they were missing the sharp vertical passing which allowed Napoli to carve through opposition teams. This is likely to come as the players adjust to the new ideas and form strong connections with each other through work on the training ground.
There were issues, though, because they struggled at times in the buildup stage and their attacks often came unstuck when Manchester City were in their defensive shape. They also played a high defensive line in order to press high and restrict space to work in for the opposition, but it was too easy to play through them and Aguero kept making intelligent runs in behind.
It was clear that this isn’t Sarri’s team because players such as Caballero, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata were uneasy in this set-up. Therefore, it will take a while for the team to adapt and they could struggle to produce results in the early weeks of the Premier League. However, it should be worth it in the long run, especially with the excitement his style is likely to bring.
Battle of the youngsters
Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi are two of the most talented English prospects coming through the national team set-up. They played together in the U-17 World Cup last year and ended up coming away winners with a 5-2 victory over Spain in the final. However, they found themselves on opposing teams in the Community Shield.
They were the two youngest players to start the match by a significant margin, with Foden the oldest at 18. This shows the trust placed in them by Guardiola and Sarri because both managers utilize styles which are demanding tactically and technically. Hudson-Odoi has only had a few preseason games to showcase his talent to Sarri, but he has clearly impressed him.
Foden started the game the stronger of the two in his free 8 role because he saw a lot of possession due to the pockets of space he was able to find. He worked well in tandem with Mahrez, who stayed wide to create a gap in the half space for Foden to drive into.
His defensive work was also on show. He knew when to shift back into the defensive shape to cut off passing lanes and when to press forwards. He was often the player who closed down Willy Caballero when City were implementing a high press.
The second half was a similar affair, as Foden played in Aguero early on as well as having a shot of his own. His comfort in the role is a welcome sign for City ahead of the new season because he can be trusted as an alternative for De Bruyne and David Silva.
Hudson-Odoi grew into the game after a slow start, and started to test Kyle Walker through his trickery and quick changes of direction. He quickly became Chelsea’s main attacking threat from the left flank as he repeatedly unsettled the opposition back line. Claudio Bravo was tested a number of times by the youngster, but his opportunities were limited. He was unable to carry this on in the second half as his team struggled and ended up being substituted for Willian.
They both showed signs of promise in this clash and are likely to have opportunities in the upcoming season as they take on greater responsibility within their respective teams. Having two youngsters working under such innovative managers at the top level is a promising sign for England fans after such a successful summer.