Maurizio Sarri's sums don't quite add up and other takeaways as Man City cruise past Chelsea

Matt Jones 5/08/2018
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Premier League champions Manchester City looked like they hadn’t even been away as they comfortably beat Chelsea at Wembley to lift the first piece of silverware this season, a comprehensive 2-0 win earning them a fifth Community Shield.

Sergio Aguero’s brace saw the Blues blitzed although it could so easily have been more.

Here are three talking points from the game.

 

Is Aguero’s City’s best-ever player?

Who's better than me?

Who’s better than me?

He’s the club’s all-time record goalscorer, but there’s an argument to be had that Sergio Aguero still does not receive the full credit he deserves.

A well-taken brace at Wembley earned City a convincing win in the Community Shield and showed the Argentine’s enduring class.

Yet while he’s lit up England during his time with the club, there’s been a few dark times for the goalscoring phenomenon during his days under Pep Guardiola.

Struggling to cope with Guardiola’s exhaustive list of expectations and with emerging talent Gabriel Jesus snapping at his heels, Aguero has had to handle a lot of pressure in recent seasons and questions about how much of a future he has in sky blue.

Yet, witnessing Aguero’s performance in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English top flight season, it seems strange to think that for much of Guardiola’s early reign at the Etihad, the curtain has appeared close to coming down on Aguero’s sublime stint in Manchester.

Amid testing times, however, Aguero has continued to do what Aguero does best, mercilessly plunder goals.

That brace made it 201 for City, in just 293 games. That is incredible.

To put it in perspective, Eric Brook, the man he surpassed last November, scored 179 in 499 games in a sky blue shirt.

Brook’s goals were scored during a 13-year spell. Aguero has only completed seven seasons. Yet he must be in the conversation concerning the club’s greatest-ever player, along with Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell, Franny Lee and Yaya Toure.

Jorg on, son

Jorginho started but was poor for Chelsea.

Jorginho started but was poor for Chelsea.

Welcome to English football, Jorginho. The Italian well and truly had his eyes opened to just what will be expected of him this season.

Following impressive outings in pre-season, the Brazil-born midfielder will have been left bamboozled by a blistering performance from the champions of England as the weak and woeful Blues were well beaten.

He gave the ball away in the opening minute and that essentially told the tale of his competitive debut in England as he never seemed to recover.

This is a player who lit up Serie A and the Stadio San Paolo last season.

No other player in the nation averaged more passes per game than his 96.9.

His 49 key passes was 31st overall and his 1.5 per game fifth-most for his club, while only Allan and Mario Rui posted better figures than his 1.9 tackles per game.

But Serie A is played at a far more sedate speed compared to the Premier League, and the all-action midfielder has some work to do.

Of course the Community Shield remains a glorified friendly and Jorginho will have the rampant N’Golo Kante alongside him in the Chelsea engine room this season.

But the new arrival is no doe-eyed kid. He is 26 and much more will be expected in the harsh climate of the Premier League where you either sink or swim.

Sarri not yet on the money

Sarri

Everyone knew Antonio Conte was going. Chelsea fans knew it, opposition fans knew it. Conte even knew it. So why did Roman Abramovich wait until two days before the World Cup ended to pull the trigger?

By the time Maurizio Sarri was appointed Conte’s successor on July 14, 56 days had been chalked off the calendar since the Blues put some gloss on an otherwise lacklustre 2017/18 campaign with victory over Manchester United in May’s FA Cup final.

Sarri has only had 23 days with his players and will have only added five more by the time they kick off their Premier League campaign against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Not to mention, the likes of Kante and Eden Hazard are yet to return following their exploits in Russia, so require further work from both themselves and renowned strategist Sarri in order to get off to a good start.

Of course, any new manager needs time and Sarri should prove to eventually be a shrewd appointment by the Blues.

But being a former banker, Sarri has a sharp mind. And as was proved in defeat to City, Chelsea’s sums do not quite add up at the moment.

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Plenty of work to do for Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea as Pep Guardiola continues to show his class

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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City claimed a 2-0 win over Chelsea, led by Maurizio Sarri for the first time, in Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley. Here Press Association Sport assesses the rival bosses.

Selection

Both sides were hamstrung by World Cup absentees. But while City have high calibre replacements, Chelsea are a far poorer team without Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Thibaut Courtois. Sarri’s first selection saw David Luiz restored and placed great faith in new boy Jorginho, alongside Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley in a three-man midfield which appeared vulnerable. Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Benjamin Mendy started for City, for whom Bernardo Silva was bright. Even without their front-line talents, City’s is a squad to envy.

Jorginho started for Chelsea

Jorginho started for Chelsea


Tactics
The personnel may not have been totally familiar, but City’s tactics were. Kyle Walker and Mendy surged down the flanks, Fernandinho patrolled central midfield and Foden, Silva, Leroy Sane and Mahrez buzzed around with Sergio Aguero lurking menacingly. After a preference for a back three under Antonio Conte, Sarri deployed a 4-3-3. Marcos Alonso appears more comfortable going forwards than defensively and the midfield was crying out for Kante’s attributes and more balance. Jorginho, who opted for Chelsea over City, was central to Sarri’s plans, but players to complement the Italy midfielder were lacking. City appeared able to pick off Chelsea at will.

Kyle Walker (right) impressed for City

Kyle Walker (right) impressed for City


Interaction
Sarri describes Guardiola as the best coach in the world and a friend. He approached the Catalan in the tunnel prior to kick-off, wearing a wide smile and offering a warm handshake and embrace. Guardiola kept his game face on. The City boss meant business, despite his relaxed attire of pastel t-shirt, khaki trousers and trainers. Sarri was in his club issue tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt on a stifling hot day. Sarri, a heavy smoker, also regularly fiddled with what appeared to be a nicotine replacement. Guardiola went to the Chelsea bench at the end to shake hands with Sarri and his staff.

Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Community Shield

Celebrations and commiserations
Guardiola celebrated City’s opener, made by Foden and converted by Aguero, with gusto, as Sarri returned to the bench to converse with Gianfranco Zola, the former Chelsea playmaker and now assistant manager. Sarri had his arms crossed for much of the match. Guardiola was energetic, as usual, and thrilled with Aguero’s second. Sarri’s head sank, as if he realised just the size of the task facing him. It might have been worse, but for some saves by Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal.

Pep Guardiola celebrates after the opening goal

Pep Guardiola celebrates after the opening goal


Verdict
Guardiola knows the challenges of life in the Premier League, having experienced a trying first season before a record-breaking second. Sarri may not have the luxury of patience and time at Chelsea, and certainly cannot expect to have the resources available to Guardiola at City. Guardiola will be eager for more of the same this season and the early signs are promising that City can become the first team in 10 years to defend the Premier League title. Sarri, three weeks into the job, will hope for Hazard and Kante to stick around and for his side to gel to his methods swiftly. Otherwise it could be a trying tenure.

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Sergio Aguero strikes twice as Manchester City beat Chelsea to win Community Shield

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Milestone: Sergio Aguero

Manchester City kicked off the campaign with silverware as Sergio Aguero‘s double saw off Maurizio Sarri’s undercooked Chelsea in the Community Shield.

Continuing where they left off last season, Pep Guardiola’s side dominated from the outset on a sweltering Sunday afternoon at Wembley – with their top marksman going through the 200-goal barrier for the club.

Aguero struck either side of half-time in a win that was far more comprehensive than the 2-0 scoreline suggests, sealing a fifth Community Shield for Premier League champions City as a Chelsea side lacking key players and preparation toiled.

Sarri has only been in the hotseat for three weeks after the west Londoners parted company with Antonio Conte, despite the former boss leading them to FA Cup glory in May and the previous season’s Premier League title.

Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Thibaut Courtois were among the high-profile absentees that Chelsea’s manager had to deal without against a surprisingly strong City side boasting six of their World Cup stars in the starting line-up.

Aguero was among them and took just 13 minutes to net his 200th goal for the club after collecting a pass from 18-year-old Phil Foden.

Surprisingly it took until the 58th minute for City to grab another, when the impressive Bernardo Silva slipped their all-time top scorer in to fire home his second.

While to many the Community Shield is only a glorified friendly, some see it as a shot at silverware not to be sniffed at and Guardiola’s pleasure was clear after adding to last season’s Premier League and Carabao Cup crowns.

As for Chelsea, new manager Sarri has a lot of work to do before next Saturday’s Premier League opener at Huddersfield.

It looked ominously one-sided from the outset, with Leroy Sane soon threatening before City built from the back to send Foden galloping forward.

The teenager laid off to Aguero as soon as David Luiz made a meek attempt at a challenge, with the striker sending a low effort past former City team-mate Willy Caballero.

Guardiola punched the air after a goal that City had chances to add to before Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata tried his luck from distance, with 17-year-old livewire
Callum Hudson-Odoi having two of his own attempts after a planned water break.

The second effort from Hudson-Odoi was somehow spilled by Claudio Bravo, who soon endured an even more embarrassing moment after somehow misreading the bounce of a hopeful ball forwards, seeing it bounce over him and racing back to save his blushes.

But Chelsea’s threats were fleeting, and City never looked flummoxed, even when Aguero wasted a glorious chance when rounding Caballero to fire into the side-netting in the 50th minute.

Within eight minutes his 201st City goal arrived, darting between Luiz and Antonio Rudiger to meet a fine Silva ball with a smart finish.

Pedro and City summer signing Riyad Mahrez had attempts at goal, before Caballero’s defiance prevented Aguero from completing a hat-trick with a volleyed effort.

Widespread substitutions and the heat made the game stretched, although Brahim Diaz was looking to make an impact off the City bench.

He fired into the side-netting and then forced Caballero into action, with fellow substitute Gabriel Jesus stinging the goalkeeper’s palms before Bravo prevented Tammy Abraham meeting a cross at the other end.

Diaz was able to force Caballero into one more save in stoppage-time, when Rudiger threw himself in front of Silva’s attempt to add gloss to the scoreline.

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