Man City back in the groove as Aguero ruins Sarri’s Chelsea bow

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero put two goals past his compatriot Willy Caballero, to give City a 2-0 victory over Chelsea, in the Community Shield. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2018
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Man City back in the groove as Aguero ruins Sarri’s Chelsea bow

  • Blues boss Sarri, hired to replace sacked Antonio Conte, endures miserable debut in prestigious friendly
  • City are favorites to defend the title and are among the top Champions League contenders

LONDON: Sergio Aguero spoiled Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s first taste of English football as the Argentine’s double gave Manchester City a stylish 2-0 victory in the Community Shield 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 Chelsea were swept aside by Premier League champions City.
Picking up where they left off in their record-breaking campaign last term, Pep Guardiola’s team took an early lead through Aguero, who rewarded City’s dominance with a second goal after the break.
The last side to win the Community Shield and then go on to clinch the Premier League title were Manchester United in 2010-11.
On this evidence, City could follow in their arch rivals’ footsteps at the end of the season.
“It’s not easy to play after such a short time. It’s complicated for all of them but they are so competitive. My hat’s off to them,” Guardiola said of his team’s quick recovery after the World Cup.
“We couldn’t press enough because the players were absolutely exhausted. But in general we made a good performance. I didn’t expect that level of performance.”
While the Community Shield serves as the curtain raiser to the new season, City and FA Cup holders Chelsea have very different ambitions for the Premier League campaign, which kicks off on Friday.
City are favorites to defend the title and among the top Champions League contenders after becoming the first English top-flight team to secure 100 points last season.
In contrast, Chelsea are starting from scratch after chain-smoking former banker Sarri was hired from Napoli as an antidote to his antagonistic predecessor Conte.
But healing the wounds of Conte’s fractious two-year reign won’t be easy for Sarri, as this spluttering performance underlined.
Sarri and Guardiola are close friends and dined together on the eve of the Community Shield, yet this first experience of Chelsea’s reduced status left a nasty taste for the Italian.
“Today we were not in control of the match. We have a long way to go. We have to work. It’s not easy,” Sarri said.
Consigning Conte’s favored 3-4-2-1 formation to the bin, Sarri sent Chelsea out in a 4-3-3 system that malfunctioned from start to finish.
Sarri has brought Italy midfielder Jorginho with him from Napoli to serve as the pivot for his manager’s attacking gameplan.
But Jorginho made an underwhelming start, repeatedly giving the ball away in dangerous areas.
Phil Foden drove at the heart of the Chelsea defense to set up City’s 13th-minute opener with little resistance from Jorginho or anyone else.
Foden’s incisive run ended with a simple pass to the unmarked Aguero, who applied the finishing touch with a fine low strike from the edge of the area.
It was Aguero’s 200th City goal — making the Argentina striker the first player to reach that milestone for the Eastlands outfit.
Foden’s contribution was the highlight of an assured display from the 18-year-old midfielder that belied his tender age and showed why he is hailed by City staff as the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.
In the absence of Eden Hazard, still resting after the World Cup, Chelsea unveiled a precocious talent on their own in Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The 17-year-old winger gave a glimpse of his blistering pace and nimble footwork when he cut in from the left flank to bring City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo into action with a stinging drive.
Hudson-Odoi was a rare bright spot for Chelsea, with subdued Spain striker Alvaro Morata offering little evidence he can make amends for last season’s flop.
Inspired by Aguero, City could have won by five but they settled for one more in the 58th minute.
Aguero made a clever run to meet Bernardo Silva’s pass with a clinical finish that flashed past Willy Caballero as the champions showed Sarri the size of the task ahead of him.
 


Arsenal end Dubai break with 3-2 win over Al-Nasr

Updated 26 March 2019
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Arsenal end Dubai break with 3-2 win over Al-Nasr

  • Gunners play Lacazette and Ozil as they beat Dubai hosts in friendly.

LONDON: Al-Nasr gave it a good go but ultimately they were outclassed by an Arsenal side not light on experience, as the Londoners beat their Dubai hosts 3-2 at the Al-Maktoum Stadium.
The match wrapped up Unai Emery’s side’s mid-season training camp and provided a big-match opening for the refurbished stadium.

Lacazette​ was one of a number of big-name players to take the field for the North Londoners. (Reuters) 


It would have been all too easy and understandable if the Gunners had rested their big names. But the Spanish boss played as strong as side as he could with both Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette playing over an hour.
Despite the impressive line-up Arsenal, however, were the ones who fell behind — Ronnie Fernandez hitting a brilliant shot from outside the area to stun the visitors and Petr Cech in the Gunners goal. It was no more than the hosts deserved having looked the livelier of the teams in the opening exchanges.

Ronie Fernandez fired in an excellent opener for Al-Nasr to give the hosts an unexpected lead. (Reuters) 


The lead was not to last long, though, as Denis Suarez, on loan from Barcelona, set up Carl Jenkinson to level the scores with the break approaching.
Emery, as expected, made five changes at half-time with Ozil and Lacazette staying on the pitch to combine for Arsenal’s second — the German teeing up the French striker with an exquisite pass to make the score 2-1.

The refurbished Al-Maktoum Stadium looked in fine shape for the big match. (Reuters) 


That then became 3-1 when teenager Tyreece John-Jules rounded the keeper before slotting home.
Al-Nasr had looked good throughout the clash and their last-minute consolation — a Khaled Jasal penalty — was no more than they deserved.

Exciting young gun Tyreece John-Jules scores the winner in a memorable match for the 18-year-old. (Reuters) 


For Arsenal the focus returns to the Premier League where they are battling it out with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United for a spot in the top four.

Al-Nasr's Khaled Jasal slots home the consolation penalty for the hosts to make it 3-2. (Reuters)