LONDON: Despite the tight turnaround after the World Cup, Manchester City’s attacking ruthlessness has not been blunted by fatigue or the English heatwave.
Three weeks after the World Cup finished, the Premier League champions opened the new season by collecting more silverware.
Sergio Aguero spoiled Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s first taste of English football as the Argentine’s double, including his 200th goal for the club, gave City a stylish 2-0 victory in the Community Shield at a sun-baked Wembley on Sunday.
Blues boss Sarri, hired to replace the sacked Antonio Conte last month, endured a miserable debut in the prestigious friendly at Wembley as lacklustre FA Cup holders were swept aside by City.
The game between title winners and cup holders is the traditional curtain-raiser but on this evidence the gap between the two teams, which last season stood at 30 points in the Premier League, is as wide as ever despite the arrival of Sarri and new signing Jorginho.
Aguero struck his first on 13 minutes after Phil Foden, filling in admirably for Kevin De Bruyne, burst forward to find the Argentine, who wrong-footed Antonio Rudiger with a low shot to become the first City player to reach a double century of goals.
Chelsea took 25 minutes to even register a shot and seldom threatened and it was no surprise when Aguero added a second from a Bernardo Silva pass after spurning an even clearer chance moments earlier as City became the first Premier League champions to win the trophy since Manchester United in 2013.
While it has been a summer of continuity at City after a record 100-point Premier League haul, Chelsea have gone through more turmoil in recent weeks. Sarri has had only a couple of weeks to work on his new Chelsea squad after the protracted firing of Conte.
Although Conte won the FA Cup at Wembley in May, the Italian paid the price for Chelsea’s slump from league champions to fifth place, leaving the west London club out of the Champions League.
Resolving the managerial situation hasn’t ended uncertainty around Chelsea. Both goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and midfielder Eden Hazard are still on their breaks after helping Belgium to finish third at the World Cup. It’s unclear if they will play for Chelsea again, with the duo linked with moves to Real Madrid.
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2018