16 Conclusions On Man City 3 Chelsea 2

It looks like Roberto Di Matteo has some work to do at Chelsea, while Man City showed they don't need Jack Rodwell as they look to defend their Premier League crown...

Last Updated: 13/08/12 at 10:27 Post Comment

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* Crash, bang, wallop. It may seem like football has never been away this summer, but when two Premier League heavyweights go head to head, the Olympic tournament looks rather anaemic in comparison. After a final spectacular Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium, with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt all smiles after historic achievements, Chelsea and Man City burst the bubble with a fiercely competed Community Shield. It's been suggested that football has been put to shame over the past two weeks, but it didn't appear to care as it greeted us again at Villa Park.

* There was a time when the traditional curtain-raiser was a tame and insipid affair but this year's fixture picked up where last season left off with five goals, a straight red card, a raft of tasty challenges and, naturally, plenty of bickering. The FA have called on footballers to follow the Olympic example with their conduct on the pitch, but like sweet old dears in a coin-op laundry, they love nothing more than a good moan.

* But even Chelsea found it hard to argue with Kevin Friend's decision to dismiss Branislav Ivanovic for his reckless challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov. Although the Chelsea defender might have claimed his eyes were only on the ball, his tackle was rightly adjudged to have been an excessive use of force, with replays of Ivanovic's studs impacting on Kolarov's shin highlighting the danger. It was stupid from Ivanovic, and he's fortunate to have been saved by the FA rule change.

* Although Ivanovic has been cleared, the threat of suspension revealed how desperately short Chelsea are in an area they have failed to address in their summer spending. Despite being linked with a host of right-backs following Jose Bosingwa's departure, the Blues are yet to find a replacement for the Portuguese and were forced to play Ramires out of position in the second half. Their priority now will be to ensure that adequate cover is found.

* Speaking of Ramires' versatility, it seems the Brazilian midfielder is rapidly emerging as Chelsea's most important player. After starting on the right in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the 25-year-old drifted inside to set up Fernando Torres' opening goal before doing a job in defence when he was called upon. Ramires' ability to cover a number of positions was vital to Chelsea in their victorious Champions League campaign and the Brazilian again demonstrated his willingness to adapt when required.

* Considering his deployment in a number of roles, Ramires is developing a reputation of being something of a workhorse. However, the midfielder showed his Brazilian flair with a lovely assist for Torres - who was also impressive - just before half time. His drop of the shoulder completely deceived Pablo Zabaleta, opening up space to provide the killer pass. Hopefully we'll see plenty of that sort of thing from Oscar when the £20million signing from Internacional is up to speed.

* Given the performance of Eden Hazard - which included a hilarious David Dunn moment - it's clear that Chelsea's costly summer recruits will need time to integrate into the first team. It's an obvious point, but the Blues could struggle to find the right balance in the early stages of the season as Roberto Di Matteo works out how to cram the talent he has available into just 11 spaces on the teamsheet. PSG struggled to a 2-2 draw at home to Lorient when Ligue 1 kicked off on Saturday night and Chelsea will probably suffer similar teething problems after a summer of change.

* While Chelsea have been splashing the cash since their Champions League victory, Man City hadn't made a single signing ahead of the Community Shield (although a deal for Jack Rodwell has now been completed - more on that later) and the need for a new centre-back was evident at Villa Park. With Joleon Lescott absent and Kolo Toure possibly on his way out of the club, Stefan Savic started in a back three and reminded us all of his gauche defending when he clattered into Hazard early on. Surprisingly, that challenge was missed by Friend, but Savic soon found himself cautioned for another poor tackle and was substituted as a precaution at half time. City can't rely on the 21-year-old to provide back-up again, but whether it's worth paying £27million for Daniel Agger to avoid that scenario is another question.

* It was interesting to see City start in a 3-4-1-2 formation, but with Lescott and Micah Richards to return it was presumably a temporary approach by Roberto Mancini. While Zabaleta can be trusted to fulfil all aspects of wing-back duty on the right, Kolarov and Gael Clichy are considerably more susceptible on the left. To an extent the system worked against a Chelsea side with only one natural winger (Hazard), but City should revert to a flat back four once the Premier League season begins.

* One advantage of the way City lined up was the increased support in midfield which allowed them to zip the ball around rather neatly in the first half. We saw last season that City's strength lies in dominating possession and waiting patiently to carve teams open and they provided a refreshing reminder of their agreeable style. They look ready to defend their Premier League crown.

* The strike partnership of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero further aided City's commitment to retaining possession through the tireless work-rate of both forwards and their desire to put Chelsea's defence and deep midfielders under pressure. Mancini was unable to pair Tevez and Aguero for most of last season and the manager's hand has certainly been strengthened by having the formidable duo available for the new campaign.

* Although City are yet to add to their title-winning squad, the impact of Tevez's return from Argentina will stretch far beyond his key contribution in last year's run-in. One of the main advantages of having the 28-year-old back and settled in the squad is his ability to work in a number of attacking combinations. Indeed, he is the ideal partner for each of City's three other first-team forwards, presenting Mancini with a number of options to freshen up and change the system throughout the season. The message Tevez revealed on his t-shirt after his stunning strike showed that the forward is always thinking of home, but hopefully, for City, the Argentine is now focused.

* Wasn't it great seeing Yaya Toure again? In recent years the Premier League has lost certain star players to La Liga - Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas being the most obvious examples - but Toure has proved to be a superstar since moving in the opposite direction. Arsenal fans will be hoping Santi Cazorla is a similar success story following his arrival from Malaga this summer, but the Spain international will have to go some way to emulate the impact of Toure.

* Saying that, Petr Cech should have done better with the Ivorian's equaliser. On writing this, I imagine Cech is still on his way down to try and save Toure's near-post strike after leaving an acre of room for the midfielder to aim at. Given Cech's inconsistency, it's perhaps an odd decision for Chelsea to allow Thibaut Courtois - who would provide genuine competition - to return to Atletico Madrid on loan for another 12 months.

And after Costel Pantilimon's howler, City could perhaps do with better back-up as well.

* Nigel de Jong's assured performance was a compelling reason for City not to spend £15million on Rodwell just hours before the transfer was completed. Indeed, if De Jong was limited to just 14 Premier League appearances last season, how much will Rodwell be involved? It's a move that smacks of desperation from Mancini. The manager is eager to bring in new faces to build on the boost of winning the title, but considering Rodwell's injury struggles and performance levels over the past two seasons, City may have made quite a costly mistake.

* Those Olympic crowds are far too polite. There's nothing like thousands of grown adults screaming "W*nker, W*nker, W*nker" at a man for making a correct decision.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

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