It could have been more, but two goals were enough for Manchester City to outclass Chelsea and claim the first silverware of the 2018/19 season; the Community Shield.
Man City’s all-time leading scorer, Sergio Aguero was the blues nemesis again, slotting past his compatriot, Willy Caballero in either half to give City a 2-0 cushion, even as Chelsea looked lame throughout the game.
The importance of the Premier League and FA Cup winners’ game usually comes down to questioning but who doesn’t fancy winning the competitive curtain raiser of the season?
Even Maurizio Sarri didn’t play down the importance of winning a title with his first competitive game as the Blues’ boss.
“I want to win because it’s very important to have immediately a trophy. But in this moment of the season, it’s very important, the performance. We have to improve, of course.” The new Chelsea boss told Sky Sports before the game.
Sarri and Chelsea won’t beat themselves up as things didn’t go their way, not after a game that spoke much volume about the difference in the two teams and the two managers who belong to the same school of thought in the game.
From the dugout to the play-by-play on the field, everything was contrasting. It was Maurizio Sarri’s competitive bow in charge of a reshaping Chelsea team while Pep Guardiola was wielding his refined armoury.
So much went round about the mutual philosophy of Guardiola and Sarri before the game. Both of them want their teams to retain the ball, press high and pass round. As mutual as their understanding of the game might be, there was an evident gulf in class, particularly in the imposition of the pressing and passing style.
You wouldn’t want to make Sarri feel sorry though, he’s only trying to begin, at Chelsea, what his counterpart started two years ago. Simply put, the Chelsea team looked like a chap who has just joined a new school, while Guardiola’s Manchester City was like the head boy who knows the school inside out.
At the risk of judging the new Chelsea under Sarri, tactically analyzing what went down at the Wembley won’t be out of place either.
In the absence of Eden Hazard, Ngolo Kante and Thibaut Courtois, Sarri had a pool of players to pick from and they could still manage to tick. Despite this little faith, the interpretation of roles was calamitous, especially at the back.
Marcus Alonso who has been defaulted as a left-wing-back under Conte failed to adapt to the original role of a full-back just as Cezar Aziplicueta, who started at the right full-back position appeared to have lost the flair he used in manning the same position in 2014/15. Between those two, Toni Rudiger and David Luiz looked too far from a pair.
Upfield, the Alvaro Morata led attack was lame and the midfield tandem of new signing Jorginho, Barkley and Fabregas, who was later replaced by Danny Drinkwater also lacked spine.
Apparently, Chelsea was uninspiring in the entire duration of play but was Manchester City totally dominant? No. Like Sarri, Pep had to select his squad based on condition, although on the far side of quality. But if the blues had posed a real threat, they would have unsettled a shaky City defence and also capitalize on the wastefulness of Aguero and Mahrez. The best part of the City setup was their midfield which was fueled by the flair of Phil Foden and the energy of Fernandinho.
Chelsea faithful are used to the frequent change of managers almost every season, but it could be more difficult to admit that the club would be a work in progress this term. Ironically, there’s a lot of work to be done and it’s not certain Sarri won’t get the boot if he fails in a season or two.
On the other side of the school, Pep and City will do more of reaping from the investment of two years. Whichever way they want, they could stroll, walk, run or fly.