New season, same old City

Sergio Aguero (second from right) taking just 13 minutes to claim his 200th goal for Manchester City. It was the first of his two strikes against Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley yesterday.
Sergio Aguero (second from right) taking just 13 minutes to claim his 200th goal for Manchester City. It was the first of his two strikes against Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Even without de Bruyne & Silva, champions prove too slick as Aguero bags a classy brace

ENGLISH COMMUNITY SHIELD

Chelsea 0

Manchester City 2


New season and new Chelsea, but same old Manchester City and the same Sergio Aguero.

The champions collected their third trophy of 2018 with an authoritative display to show why they finished 30 points ahead of Chelsea last season.

Aguero secured the Community Shield with an illustration of why he is the most potent player in their history. He became City's first double centurion, taking his tally to 201 goals with sublime timing.

Gabriel Jesus had signed a five-year contract on Friday, but this was Aguero's swift riposte. He showed he remains City's best out-and-out scorer. But it made for a chastening occasion for Maurizio Sarri. If the Chelsea manager needed a reminder a team cannot be transformed in three weeks, he got one.

The FA Cup winners looked defensively suspect in a new-look 4-3-3 formation as City unlocked them at will. Sarri's tactics were ambitious, but they backfired against a team of City's calibre.

Chelsea were shambolic by the end, the substitute Brahim Diaz spurning three fine chances to make it a rout.

Aguero took two. Injury had left him stranded on 199 City goals since April. The double century was brought up in style, just under seven years after his debut, with the unerring accuracy that has characterised Aguero at his finest.

He found the bottom corner of his Argentina team-mate Willy Caballero's net from 20 metres. His second was rifled in following the influential Bernardo Silva's defence-splitting pass.

The unusual part of Aguero's performance came in his other attempts. The first hit the corner flag. Early in the second half, he rounded Caballero only to place his effort into the side-netting.

The novel element for City came in the identity of the supplier for his opener. Phil Foden had strode forward purposefully before picking out the striker.

The 18-year-old was benefiting from the absence of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva to indicate that City have a precocious alternative to their pass masters.

Like Bernardo Silva's performance, it showed how City have strength in depth despite making a solitary signing.

Aguero's second goal highlighted how easily City sprang Chelsea's offside trap. Sarri's defence push far higher up than Antonio Conte's did.

They allowed City too much room, either behind the back four or in front of them.

The debutant holding midfielder Jorginho was isolated when City flooded forward. This was not a day to suggest he made the right choice by spurning City to join Chelsea.

With David Luiz struggling and Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley caught out of position, positives were few and far between for Sarri.

But Callum Hudson-Odoi brought the fearlessness of youth. He was Chelsea's brightest attacker, but he was dispossessed by John Stones for City's second goal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'New season, same old City'. Print Edition | Subscribe