Manchester City Emerge as Pre-season Favourites once again
Among large sections of empty seats and with a lazy feel about the air there was no doubt that the traditional curtain raising friendly for the new season was suffering from an Olympic hangover. The two week sporting party that has gripped the nation has meant that the start of the football season is the last thing on the minds of people up and down the country, especially on a last day that saw super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua claim Britain’s 29th and last Gold medal of a record breaking games.
That hangover however certainly did not find its way down on to the pitch at Villa Park, this years one off venue due to the Olympic Football final taking place the day before at traditional home Wembley, where this traditionally tepid affair was anything but. Players flew into numerous tackles, none more than Branislav Ivanovic whose 42nd minute tackle on Alexander Kolarov drew a harsh looking straight red card from referee Kevin Friend. Ivanovic got most of ball and although one leg appeared to catch Kolarov high up on the shin the red appeared harsh especially in a Friendly match before the season has even started. Perhaps Mr Friend was trying to assert his dominance and authority to the rest of the league before the new campaign.
Ivanovic reacts to his Charity Shield Sending off.
Moments before the red card Chelsea had taken the lead against the run of play. A City clearance fell to Ramires who glided past several City players before rolling to Fernando Torres who controlled with his right before lifting the ball over keeper Costel Pantilimon for a cool and confident finish with his left, a sign that at long last Torres may be rediscovering the form of old.
However with the man advantage after the break City clicked up a couple of gears and tore Chelsea’s defence to pieces in a devastating 12 minute spell that saw the Premiership Champions net three times and put the contest to bed. First Yaya Toure lashed in at the near post after a poor clearance from Terry. Next infamous Chelsea nemesis and ex-city outcast Carlos Tevez smashed into the top corner from twenty-five yards, and the spell was completed when Samir Nasri converted Kolarov’s pin point cross to put city further ahead. Chelsea replied through Ryan Bertrand, a left back shaped into a left-winger by Di Matteo, but it was not enough and city passed up several openings to extend their lead and humiliate Chelsea more but had to settle for a competitive looking 3-2 score line.
Carlos Tevez pin-point shot finds Chelsea’s top Corner.
Even with equal men in the first half City’s slick and quick passing style had been too much for Chelsea. Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel were torn to shreds in the centre of midfield, both putting in very poor displays which, for Lampard at least, will do nothing to put down the rumours that he is becoming to old for the pace of the Premier League game.
Chelsea new boy Eden Hazard showed glimpses of the talent he possesses but it was a slightly below par performance by his high standards. Many feel his ego could be potentially damaging to Chelsea this year, in fact his opinion of himself may have been more at home in a city dressing room that contains Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez both of whom could spend hours marvelling at them selves in a mirror or having a DVD of their greatest moments on repeat in their own home such is their apparent self inflated opinion of themselves.
In what was a fast, frenetic and at times fantastic game it was City that sent a message out to the rest of the premier league about their capability this season. Chelsea or indeed other teams should not worry however. The outcome of the Charity shield does not always govern how the new season will pan out, far from it in fact. Only last year Manchester United beat City 3-2 in this same fixture only for city to claim premier league glory and United to finish with nothing.
It may be early days but whatever history suggests about the Charity shield there is no doubt that after this season’s event City have told the footballing world that they are ready to defend their title, it is theirs to lose. They say the second time is always harder, if that is the case then Manchester city have got off to a perfect start. It may not be a victory that achieves anything much but it acts as a psychological blow to Chelsea. A team that could very well be up there challenging with City come May next year.
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