The Maurizio Sarri era at Chelsea got off to an uncertain start with a comprehensive 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield.
The Blues were second best for the entire contest as they struggled to create anything in the final third and rarely tested Claudio Bravo in the City goal. Their opponents looked far more refined and familiar in their patterns of play and it took them just 13 minutes to open the scoring, with Sergio Aguero firing home after Phil Foden ran unchallenged to the edge of the area.
Callum Hudson-Odoi posed the only vague attacking threat from a Chelsea perspective though the game was effectively over just before the hour mark when Aguero doubled the Premier League champions’ advantage at the end of a clinical counterattack. As the Londoners wilted in the heat, Man City’s football got even slicker, and it was only thanks to Willy Caballero that the game ended 2-0.
Hudson-Odoi was Chelsea’s brightest spark on the day to add to an already impressive preseason. His display might not have been perfect, but it was encouraging to see a 17-year-old look unfazed in such a heavyweight encounter. The only other positive is that at least Chelsea have another friendly against Lyon on Tuesday to improve their fitness and increase their familiarity with the new system.
At times the back four resembled four individuals rather than a cohesive unit with a poor offside line and plenty of indecision. There was also a chasm between midfield and defence that Man City exploited time and again. The lack of creativity was also a concern with no clear cut opportunities fashioned in the entire game. The return of Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante cannot come soon enough.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Impossible to make any judgement on a manager that has only been in the job for five minutes and is still evaluating his players. Facing Pep Guardiola’s well-oiled machine, this was always going to be a baptism of fire. Hired on the back of the miracles he conjured at Napoli, Sarri is entitled to stamp his system on the team rather than merely follow the old routine even if it requires some short-term pain to achieve long-term gain. But the quicker an equilibrium can be found, the better.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Willy Caballero, 8 — Was the crucial factor in preventing Chelsea suffering an embarrassment at the hands of Man City. Few of his saves were breathtaking but they were all important.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 — Solid for the majority of the game, there were still some moments when he was caught out of position and exposed by quick thinking from the opposition.
DF David Luiz, 5 — A couple of decent interceptions aside, it was clear that here was someone playing his first meaningful game for six months. The Brazil international was at fault for both goals and was generally well off the pace.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 6 — Was Chelsea’s most assured defender on the day with his positional sense thwarting a few attacks. Unfortunately a couple of losses of concentration played City forwards onside to undermine his performance.
DF Marcos Alonso, 6 — Although not troubled too much defensively, it was conspicuous how rarely he got forward playing as an orthodox left-back. As a result, his main strength was neutralised.
MF Jorginho, 6 — An up and down display, which might be expected against such a strong midfield. Pulled the strings reasonably well without really setting the tempo.
MF Ross Barkley, 6 — Enjoyed a bright opening with some decent touches and shows of strength. Drifted out of the game along with his teammates but showed enough to suggest he can be a positive influence in the future.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 5 — While never the most dynamic of players, the Spain international looked miles away from full fitness and was chasing shadows from minute one. A passenger during his time on the pitch.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, 7 — Happy to take on Kyle Walker when given the chance with differing levels of success. Twice cut inside to fire at goal without hitting the target.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 6 — Plenty of effort, very little end product. The former Barcelona man will need to sharpen up in time for the Premier League opener next Saturday.
FW Alvaro Morata, 6 — Barely affected the game largely due to the dearth of service he received from his teammates. Might have worked harder but was so isolated it would have made little difference.
FW Willian, 6 — His touch was silky though he had few openings in attacking areas.
MF Danny Drinkwater, 6 — Provided more ballast than Fabregas without offering much in possession.
FW Tammy Abraham, 6 — Showed enthusiasm and decent movement. Almost got on the score sheet late on but for some brave goalkeeping by Bravo.
FW Victor Moses, NR — Only contribution of note was to give the ball away while under no pressure whatsoever.