The Maurizio Sarri era at Chelsea kicked off on Sunday at Wembley with Chelsea falling to Manchester City by the score of 2-0.
The Community Shield has always been viewed as somewhat of a friendly match, and Chelsea looked like a team that was still playing pre-season friendlies.
On this occasion, the gap between Manchester City and Chelsea looked as large as ever. But to be fair to the Blues, Manchester City played like a team that had more first-team regulars at its disposal and have played in their particular style for two seasons running.
Glimpses of Sarri-ball emerged in the match, especially a willingness to attack, but it was clear that Sarri’s ideas have not totally taken root, and Chelsea looked disjointed for much of the match.
City looked far sharper throughout the match and took the lead their play deserved after 13 minutes when Phil Foden drove at the heart of the Chelsea defence and laid the ball off to Sergio Aguero. Aguero still had much to do, but his half-turn created a pocket of space for him to fire through the legs of Antonio Rudiger and past the diving Willy Caballero.
City continued to buzz around a lethargic-looking Chelsea team, and Leroy Sane should have doubled the lead 10 minutes later when he raced through on goal after a poor ball from Jorginho. Sane’s final touch was a bit too heavy, and it allowed Caballero to smother the ball.
Callum Hudson-Odoi started again from Chelsea, and after looking a little awed by the occasion for the first minutes had Chelsea’s best chance of the first half when he cut inside of Kyle Walker to create an angle for a shot. It was hit straight at Claudio Bravo who made it a bit of an adventure by failing to catch the ball and awkwardly pushing away to safety.
Bravo nearly gifted Chelsea an equaliser right before half-time when Marcos Alonso’s hopeful ball for Hudson-Odoi bounced over the head of Bravo, but Bravo had enough quickness to retrieve the ball before a Chelsea player could poke it into an empty net.
Aguero should have doubled the City lead just after the restart when Foden’s pass found Aguero running off of David Luiz. He opted to try and take the ball around Caballero but could only fire into the side netting as the angle narrowed.
Aguero made no mistake minutes later when he collected a clever reverse pass from Bernardo Silva and slotted the ball under Caballero.
That goal effectively ended the match as a contest, as both teams began to make substitutions, but City kept attacking looking for more goals.
But Chelsea could have gotten one last consolation goal in the dying minutes when Ross Barkley found himself galloping in acres of space down the right. His low cross for Tammy Abraham was just cut out by Bravo, though, with Victor Moses on hand should Bravo mishandle the ball.
One match against City isn’t going to define Maurizio Sarri’s time at Chelsea, but on today’s evidence, the learning curve is very steep and it’s going to take time. Napoli supporters will tell you that they suffered initially under Sarri, with just one win in their first five.
Patience is required with Sarri to give him time to get his methods across, considering they’re so vastly different from the two previous Chelsea managers. But time isn’t something managers are afforded at Stamford Bridge. It mig