KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY —– Ten seasons have passed since any club won the Premier title two seasons in succession. Manchester City promised a serious attempt to emulate neighbours United in 2009 by their hungry nature of their 2-0 defeat of Chelsea in the FA Community Shield.
Sergio Aguero scored once in each half and City might have ended up with six or seven but for their own wasteful finishing and the reflexes of Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero. Chelsea, looking ever more despondent the longer the match ran on, have a lot of work to do before their Premier season-opener next Saturday at Huddersfield.
Some 30 points separated City from Chelsea last season and new Blues’ manager Maurizio Sarri may struggle to narrow the gap. He is a newcomer to the Premier League and could shortly lose goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and star forward Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. Also, in Roman Abramovich Chelsea have an owner whose commitment to the club is in doubt after his visa problems with the UK authorities and the freezing of the project to rebuild Stamford Bridge.
City manager Guardiola has insisted that, despite all his titles with Barcelona, Bayern and now City he is still driven as hard as ever by the fear of failure. The more the 47-year-old achieves the greater the fear of failure and the more intense the pressure he imposes on his own players.
Sarri led his Blues out at Wembley with Chelsea hoping to win the Shield for the first time since 2009, when they beat Manchester United 4-1 on penalties. The previous four editions of the Community Shield had been won by the FA Cup winners but a fifth never looked a realistic prospect.
Both teams had been similarly weakened by their World Cup hangovers.
City missed Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne and England’s Raheem Sterling while Chelsea started without not only Courtois and Hazard but N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud. Expensive newcomers were City’s Riyad Mahrez (£60m from Leicester) and Chelsea’s Jorginho (£57m from Napoli).
A sign of a new start for Chelsea was a first appearance since February for David Luiz, who had fallen out with Sarris’s predecessor Antonio Conte. But the Brazilian, along with all his team-mates, struggled in vain to cope with City’s early pace and aggression.
Phil Foden, the golden ball winner when England won the FIFA U-17 World Cup last year, did not look out of place among the ‘adults’. In the 14th minute he attacked the Chelsea defence and Antonio Rudiger allowed Aguero all the time in the world to control the ball and shoot low past Caballero. Aguero thus became the first player to score 200 competitive goals for City.
Caballero was forced into sharp saves from Aguero and then from Sane after Jorginho had been caught in possession in midfield before a water break which Guardiola used to deliver an animated mini team-talk.
City ended the first half in control and only one goal ahead but the chasm between the teams was clear.
The champions moved the ball with a slick confidence born of time together under an established manager; they were also physically quicker which revealed a more effective pre-season.
By contrast Chelsea had started their pre-season work full of uncertainty under Conte who had not been replaced by Sarri until just over two weeks ago. They looked very much like a group of individuals trying hard to understand new instructions. Their most impressive player was left-winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, one of Foden’s world youth champion team-mates.
Guardiola brought on his first City signing, Ilkay Gundogan, in place of the quiet Leroy Sane for the second half in which City should have scored twice in the first four minutes. Each time it was Aguero who wasted openings created by Gundogan and then Foden. He made no mistake, however, when Gundogan and Silva carved open Chelsea’s central defence for a potentially killing second goal.
Five proved a magic number for the winners: no City player has scored more goals – five – at Wembley than Aguero and his double duly lifted them to a fifth Shield success.
Chelsea: Caballero – Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso – Fabregas (59. Drinkwater), Jorginho, Barkley – Pedro (79. Moses), Morata (68. Abraham), Hudson-Odoi (59. Willian). Manager: Sarri.
Manchester City: Bravo – Walker, Stones (90. Claudio Gomes), Laporte (86. Otamendi), Mendy – Foden (74. Diaz), Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva – Mahrez (67. Gabriel Jesus), Aguero (79. Kompany), Sane (46. Gundogan). Manager: Guardiola.
Referee: Moss. Attendance: 72,724.