As a Chelsea fan, I decided to go to our first game of the season, the Community Shield against Premier League Champions Manchester City. It was fantastic to have football return, and despite the result it was a great day out. However, beyond the experience of the day the game showed me a lot. It was not just an opportunity to earn some silverware in this traditional curtain raiser, but also to experiment and use as a final preparation before the new season. So, here is what I learnt from the 2018 Community Shield.
1. Manchester City’s dominance doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon
Before I say anything about Chelsea, we have to acknowledge Manchester City. They were dominant, flawless and showed the quality of football that won the Premier League. Sergio Aguero was clinical, scoring two fantastic goals. He could’ve easily had a hat trick where it not for a string of impressive second-half saves from fellow Argentine Willy Caballero. Every time Man City had the ball they looked dangerous. New signing Riyad Mahrez, youngster Phil Foden and Man of the Match Sergio Aguero were top performers of the game, to name a few.
Manchester City dominated a shaky Chelsea as they did on both occasions last season, and really had a fantastic game. What makes their victory even more impressive is that they were without World Cup stars Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, yet they still looked deadly in attack. Expect no different from the Citizens this season, they look rearing to go and eager to retain their Premier League crown and more.
2. Callum Hudson-Odoi is the future
I have seen him play on several occasions and he has impressed me every time, but in my opinion for Callum Hudson-Odoi to play so well against the Premier League Champions says something else. He may not have scored and been substituted after an hour, but he was Chelsea’s standout player on Sunday. He looked at ease on the ball, and made England international Kyle Walker look under pressure at times. Hudson-Odoi also had a lot of good chances, and in fact got Chelsea’s only shot on target of the game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is still only seventeen years old, and if Chelsea play their cards right and keep this young man happy at the club then he will undoubtedly be one of our future legends. I really hope he continues to play in Chelsea Blue, and I believe that he will be a world-beater in a decade.
3. Sarri needs time
Chelsea fans, including me, were delighted to see the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as Chelsea’s new head coach, eager to see a new attacking style of football at Stamford Bridge. We have all seen what ‘Sarriball’ is like at Napoli, and how effective and attractive it was. However, it was evident on Sunday that his philosophy was not going to be implemented on the squad overnight, and we know that we need to be patient with him. The only concern is whether the Chelsea board will share the same view.
We all know that there is a lack of patience with managers of Chelsea- thirteen managers in the fifteen years of the Abramovich era epitomises that. As a club we need to give Sarri time, and results will surely come if we do that. Besides, being patient has been proven to pay off. Sarri’s opposite man in the dugout on Sunday Pep Guardiola finished his debut season in England trophy less, but the club’s patience in him evidently paid off, as he broke countless records en route to winning the Premier League last season. Sarri needs time to rejuvenate the team, and if he gets that time then results are surely guaranteed.
Álvaro Morata looks on in disappointment after a tough game. (via Getty Images)
4. Morata still lacks confidence
This one hurts me to say, but watching Álvaro Morata’s performance at Wembley last Sunday really showed that he still doesn’t look confident. He didn’t get many chances, but even then it was because he was almost static throughout his sixty-eight minutes on the pitch. There was nothing promising from him at all, he wasted chances, looked lacklustre and seemed unstable.
I like Morata, and I want him to do well. I know he can play as well, as proven by his seven goals in his first eight games for the club last season. However, he has struggled since then, and has been heavily criticised. Whether Maurizio Sarri will keep him as his first-choice striker for the upcoming season is uncertain, but what is certain is that Morata is still finding it hard to hit his stride. Time will tell how much patience he will get from his new manager.
5. Chelsea’s defence needs reshuffling
Reverting back to a back four hasn’t started well for Chelsea, with the four who started on Sunday looking shaky throughout the ninety minutes. Although they all had good moments, César Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso all looked unconfident during periods of the game. Only Antonio Rüdiger looked solid, but it was not enough to keep Sergio Aguero out.
The good news is that Chelsea have a lot of defensive options. There are in total ten different defenders available at Sarri’s disposal, with a good mix of experience and youth. For Sarri, it is about shuffling his back four and finding a backline that works well as a unit. He needs to use his options, and surely with enough time he will find four players who work as well together as Chelsea’s 2016/17 back three of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and César Azpilicueta did when they won the Premier League title. What is for sure though, is that entering the Premier League season with the same back four that played the Community Shield is entering a potential season of uncertainty.
For both sides, the Premier League season starts in a matter of days. Chelsea travel up North to face Huddersfield Town on Saturday, while the next day Manchester City travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal and their new manager Unai Emery. For the reigning Champions, their aim is to keep up the momentum that they have carried through from last season and into the Community Shield. For Chelsea however, it is about repair and restoration, and the aim to improve on last season or face failure. Roll on the weekend.