Although the scoreline was only 2-0, Chelsea’s defeat in the Community Shield to Manchester City was far more concerning.
With both sides coming from a pre-season where their World Cup stars have largely been, or still are, absent, they could have been forgiven for looking a little under-cooked.
However, Manchester City looked almost at the races already and were far more convincing than their two goals gave them credit for. They outshot Chelsea 18-5, 9-2 in terms of shots on target and 13-2 looking at shots inside the 18-yard box.
It wasn’t a great start to the Maurizio Sarri era. But that’s not completely surprising. Here are three reasons why Chelsea have no need to panic after the Community Shield showing.
The protracted dispatching of Antonio Conte has meant that Sarri has only been in charge at the Bridge for three weeks, with players still arriving back from post-World Cup holidays in dribs and drabs.
It’s been noted that it took Conte a while to find the perfect season, and even Pep Guardiola struggled throughout his first season at Manchester City, tinkering with formations and seeing what players he could use there.
It will probably take some time for Chelsea to get up to speed (figuratively and literally) with the kind of pressing that Sarri will want from them.
A solid heart
Add to that the fact that his side didn’t really have a defensive presence at Wembley on Sunday, and the number of times that City had a free run at the Chelsea back-line gets slightly less worrying.
The Frenchman won’t just add a better defensive head in midfield, but the ground he’s able to cover will mean that Chelsea should be better equipped to deal with moments when their high press is broken. And, as the team get more used to Sarri (and Sarri gets more used to them), these moments should occur less often.
While fans enjoyed Callum Hudson-Odoi’s outing, he’s no substitute for Eden Hazard. Few are; the Belgian made the most successful take-ons and the most open-play key passes per 90 minutes in the league last season.
With the flexibility to be the creator or the main man in attack, Chelsea are a far more fearsome proposition going forward when he’s in the side. Just through his presence alone, defences are put on-edge and have to adapt themselves to what he’s doing – just look at whenever José Mourinho comes up against him and tries to neutralise him with a combination of man-marking and cynical fouls.
This isn’t to say that Chelsea will be world-beaters, but their performance against a lightweight Manchester City side was that of a team who’d struggle to make the top four and, as the season goes on, the Blues will be far more dangerous than that.