The defending Premier League Champions got off to an ideal start when they cruised past a haphazard Chelsea side at the home of football. City comfortable won 2-0 with both goals coming from Kun Aguero. He bagged his 200th and 201st goal for the Manchester City. While this is often regarded as a hyped up friendly, there are always moments of high tempo football in display. Clearly, Pep Guardiola comes out as the happier manager. His side picked up from where they left off last season as they played some exhilarating football as they won their first piece of silverware of the season. This is the start that they would have hoped before as they kick off their Premier League campaign against Arsenal. In his debut as Chelsea Manager, Sarri saw his team have a rather lackluster ninety minute performance. He has an extraordinary task at hand as he looks to rebuild Stamford Bridge in the aftermath of a tumultuous two years under Antonio Conte. With the Premier League just a few days away, a lot can be derived from the first competitive game of the top flight of the English Football Season.
It will take Sarri until Christmas before his side understand his style of play
When Bruce Buck and the Chelsea Board hired Sarri, they definitely knew that he would implement a system that was in contrary to that of his predecessors. “Sarri Ball” employs a free-flowing and attacking style of play and it will take the Blues a few weeks before they get used to playing football without the reins loosened on them. Chelsea have mostly played under a 3-4-3 system with Sarri tweaking it to a more conventional 4-3-3. Alongside the Italian manager came an excellent ball-playing Number 6, Jorginho. He will be key to implementing Sarri’s philosophy.
He has his side play out of the back and it simply did not work. They were fervor in the final third and City pounced on their missed opportunities. Jorginho was poor and the City midfield ran rampant in the middle of the park. He looked out of place as he is still adjusting to the intensity and tempo of English football. The worst player on the pitch, by far, was Alvaro Morata. With Conte out of the picture, the Spanish center forward was hoping for a fresh start under Sarri. He looked completely drained of confidence and he appeared to be running on two left feet. He may not be Chelsea’s striker under Sarri as the Italian manager requires a more mobile center forward. David Luiz was surprisingly decent and looked comfortable on the ball. Marcos Alonso has had a stable tenure as a wingback but he was exposed on a number of occasions at left back.
Too much should not be drawn out of one game, especially the Community Shield were both teams were missing core members of their squads. Chelsea fans should not see this as rock bottom. Sarri is a tactical genius and it takes time for teams to adjust to his system. Napoli struggled in their first few games under him before playing some of the sexiest football in Europe.
Chelsea look like a bunch of schoolboys with N’Golo Kante
He is a rock in the middle of the park and may even be the signing of the decade for the London Club. A second-tier City midfield had complete control of the game in the absence of the World-Cup winner. Sarri fielded a midfield three of Fabregas, Jorginho, and Ross Barkley. Jorginho has shown in the Serie A that he is excellent on the ball though he lacks the athleticism and know-how to function as the sole holding midfielder. The most worrisome sign for Sarri was how easily his midfield was overrun. Kante should bolster up the middle of the park and cover for any defensive lapses. Chelsea conceded their first goal when a young Foden strolled past Barkley to set up Kun Aguero. City’s second came off a sublime counter-attack.
Sarri prefers his midfield to be mobile who can join his forward players to attack in numbers. Ross Barkley may be thrusted into a playmaking role – similar to Marek Hamsik. Jorginho and Kante could likely play in deeper positions with the two linking up to break up the opposition play.
Sarri and the Chelsea board should consider wrapping Kante in bubble wrap and seal him in a hyperbaric chamber whenever he is not on the pitch. Next to the word irreplaceable in the dictionary the words, “See: Kante” should be written. The lesser he plays, the further Chelsea will slip down the table.
Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi are players of the future
Nobody could have foreseen that Hudson-Odoi would have started on the wings for Chelsea. He is a rather unknown entity for those who have not followed the Chelsea pre-season. He earned a place in the starting eleven after a string of solid performance in the International Champions Cup. Hudson-Odoi tortured Hector Bellerin when they faced Arsenal. His greatest asset is his place and control of the ball with both skills coming in handy against City. He was the best player on the pitch for Chelsea though his afternoon ended after an hour. He performed well in a meaningful game and has shown the mental fortitude to go toe-to-toe with some of the best Premier League players. Rather than doing to most Chelsea thing ever and send him out on loan, the young 17-year-old winger is an asset that the club can you use for the upcoming season.
With many of the veteran Man City players unavailable for the Wembley matchup, Phil Foden made the most of his time on the pitch. He bagged himself an assist and made a name for himself. The best part about his performance was his confidence. Foden looked mature beyond his years. He commanded the middle of the park and recycle possession with ease. His dribbling how sublime and he linked up well with Mahrez and some other players in the City frontline. He was a part of the Under-17 England side that won the youth World Cup. Foden has the poise of a veteran with Pep Guardiola being the perfect manager to develop him into a first-rate Premier League player.
With the start of the League being just around the corner, both youngsters could see plenty of game time.