Community Shield: Win Is Perfect Prep For Liverpool Rivalry – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s Community Shield triumph against Liverpool was the perfect preparation ahead of this season’s duel for supremacy between the Premier League rivals.

Guardiola’s side drew first blood on the eve of the new campaign with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success after a 1-1 draw in the annual curtain-raiser to the English top-flight season.

Sunday’s prestigious friendly at Wembley showed there is virtually nothing to separate the two teams after City pipped Liverpool to the Premier League crown by one point last term.

Raheem Sterling put City ahead in the first half before Joel Matip’s late equaliser forced a shoot-out that Guardiola’s men won through Gabriel Jesus’s decisive kick after Claudio Bravo saved Georginio Wijnaldum’s effort.

While City swept the board with an unprecedented domestic treble last season, Liverpool recovered by winning their sixth European Cup.

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Aware of the serious threat posed by Liverpool, City’s celebrations when Jesus stroked in the winning penalty showed how much they relished the opportunity to inflict an early psychological blow on their rivals.

Jurgen Klopp’s side could easily have won in normal time but for a superb display from Bravo and Kyle Walker’s incredible overhead-kick off the line, leaving Guardiola to admit the Reds will again present the main obstacle to his club’s ambitions.

“There are two real contenders, Liverpool and us, to win the Premier League. (Manchester) United with (Harry) Maguire and the other players they bought, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham can be there,” Guardiola told reporters.

“Maguire is an excellent, top-class player. We were interested but we could not afford it.

“In the beginning of the season there are five or six contenders. Then the season will talk.

“I think it will be us and Liverpool, so it is good to see the team we will compete with, the champions of Europe.

“They are a top-class team, the difference is minimal, one point last season and one penalty today.

“That’s why it’s good to play them, to say ‘guys this is the team we have to compete against. That is what we have to prepare for’.”

 ‘The hunger is there’ 

With a 10-month war of attrition looming as City try to defend the domestic trophies and wrestle the Champions League away from Liverpool, Guardiola was encouraged with the way his team dominated in the first half.

“The hunger is there for this part of the season. The game was tremendously demanding. We had a really good first half but after that we couldn’t control the switch of play, the long balls,” he said.

“For this part of the season that is normal. The calendar is crazy with the Copa America and the African Cup.”

Guardiola eased fears Leroy Sane suffered a serious injury when City’s Germany winger — a transfer target for Bayern Munich — limped off in the first half.

“The first impression was not good but I think it is not that. Honestly I don’t know, it is for the doctors. I will wait to see what the doctors say but I think he will be ok,” Guardiola said.

While Liverpool finished a difficult pre-season — including several defeats and the delayed return of their top stars from international duty — Klopp said his side’s dominant second half performance showed they will be a thorn in City’s side.

“I’m completely happy about it. No team plays like City. You saw in a few moments that we struggled positioning-wise when they do what they can do,” he said.

“But we changed a few things and in the second half of course it is about will, no-one felt tired any more and I like that a lot.”

Klopp has grumbled about Liverpool having to kick off the Premier League season against Norwich on Friday, while City open at West Ham on Saturday.

But he made it clear there are no excuses as Liverpool chase a first English title since 1990.

“We will try everything. The boys looked pretty hungry. We fought today. Both teams wanted to win desperately,” he said.

“My team is not in doubt about being satisfied. They haven’t stopped working or running.”

AFP

Man City Beat Liverpool On Penalties

Manchester City players celebrate during the presentation of the trophy after winning the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Manchester City fired the first shot in their battle for supremacy with rivals Liverpool on Sunday as they snatched the Community Shield with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Raheem Sterling gave City a first half lead before Joel Matip grabbed a late equaliser for Liverpool in the annual curtain-raiser to the English top-flight season.

In the shoot-out, City keeper Claudio Bravo saved from Georginio Wijnaldum, with Gabriel Jesus driving in the winning kick after successful efforts from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The jubilant celebrations from City’s players and fans showed inflicting an early psychological blow on Liverpool was a moment to savour, regardless of the supposed warm-up status of the glamour friendly.

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“An incredible final from both sides. We had real good moments, but in the last 15 minutes we were exhausted and they had chances to win the game,” Guardiola said.

“It was a good test for both teams. It’s nice for the players to realise what they will face this season.

“At this level the difference is nothing, just one penalty. The first title of the season is ours.”

With City installed as favourites to win the title for a third successive season and Liverpool expected to present the strongest challenge to Pep Guardiola’s side, their meeting on the eve of the season was a window into what to expect this term.

After pipping Liverpool to last season’s Premier League title with 98 points to their rivals’ 97, City went on to complete an unprecedented domestic treble by adding the FA Cup to the League Cup they won earlier in the campaign.

But Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t dwell on that painful near-miss as they won the Champions League just weeks later.

On the evidence of this hard-fought contest, which featured both flashes of quality and signs of rustiness, there will little to separate the two teams as they go head-to-head for the major prizes once again over the next 10 months.

Retaining the Community Shield trophy they won 12 months ago would improve City’s belief that they can repeat last season’s remarkable silverware haul, but Liverpool could take encouragement as well after they finished strongly enough to have won.

The only dark cloud for City was an injury to Bayern Munich target Leroy Sane, who limped off in the 10th minute holding his right leg.

City’s victory was a well-time riposte for Guardiola, who this week hit back at Klopp’s claim that the champions live in a transfer “fantasy land”.

 City flex muscles 

Guardiola gave a debut to Spain midfielder Rodri, who joined from Atletico Madrid for a club record £63 million (69 million euros) in the close-season.

And the 23-year-old’s composed passing and physical presence showed why City’s financial muscles have been flexed again.

Sterling hadn’t scored in his last 10 appearances against Liverpool in all competitions, but the England winger ended that drought in the 12th minute.

Kyle Walker’s high pass to the far post caught Liverpool appealing in vain for offside as Kevin De Bruyne headed on to David Silva.

Silva flicked towards Sterling and his close-range effort was just strong enough to escape the grasp of Reds keeper Alisson Becker and trickle over the line.

Much improved after the interval, Liverpool were inches away from equalising when Virgil van Dijk’s half-volley crashed down off the crossbar onto the goalline before City scrambled clear.

Salah was by far Liverpool’s most menacing player and he twisted away from the City defence before firing a fierce strike that cannoned off the outside of the post.

Guardiola had his head in his hands in frustration when Sterling again ran clear on goal without scoring as his hesitant stumble allowed Alisson to save at his feet.

City paid for that miss when Liverpool deservedly equalised in the 77th minute, Van Dijk helping on Jordan Henderson’s free-kick before substitute Matip headed in from close-range.

Walker’s incredible overhead-kick clearance then repelled what looked to be a late Salah winner, setting up City’s shoot-out triumph that stood as the opening salvo in what looks set to be a season-long feud.

AFP

Arsenal Beat Chelsea To Win Community Shield

Arsenal Complete Lacazette Signing
File photo

Olivier Giroud scored the decisive spot kick as Arsenal beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout to win the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.

The Premier League and FA Cup winners were locked at 1-1 after an evenly contested 90 minutes.

Giroud stroked home after Alvaro Morata and Thibaut Courtois missed for Chelsea in a shootout.

Chelsea’s Victor Moses had opened the scoring when he reacted fastest to smash a loose ball past Petr Cech in the 46th minute.

After a while, Arsenal substitute Sead Kalasinac equalised in the 82nd minute, heading home to cap an impressive performance.

Chelsea’s Pedro was dismissed for a foul on Mohamed Elneny which led to Arsenal’s equaliser while Arsene Wenger’s side also handed a debut to record signing Alexandre Lacazette.

Chelsea begin their Premier League title defence when they host Burnley on Saturday, while Arsenal entertain Leicester City on Friday.

Ibrahimovic’s Late Goal Earns Manchester United Community Shield

Manchester United wins Leicester City with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goalZlatan Ibrahimovic’s late goal was enough for Manchester United to win the Community Shield.

Manchester United defeated premiership champions, Leicester City, 2-1, securing for Ibrahimovic, his first trophy with the club.

Manchester United opened scoring at the 33rd minute when Jesse Lingard, picked the ball up in midfield and kept running, beating challenges and half-attempts at tackles before putting the ball behind the goalkeeper, Schmeichel.

Leicester pulled back at the 43rd minute, when Marouane Fellaini, in possession of the ball and apparently under pressure decided to nudge it back to De Gea.

His kick was poor and could not get to Gea before Vardy nipped in, took it past the keeper and slotted home.

The Premiership champions could not hold on as Ibrahimovic outjumped Wes Morgan to head a cross from the right flank into the corner off the post .

After the game Manchester United on its Twitter handle described the match as “a good start to the season”.

Arsenal Are More Of A Unit Now – Monreal

ArsenalDefender, Nacho Monreal believes Arsenal are in a better position to challenge for the Premier League title than in 2013/14 because the team are playing “like a unit”.

Arsène Wenger’s side have started this season encouragingly. They are level on points with leaders Manchester City after 12 matches and possess the joint second best defensive record in the league.

Monreal says “everything is right” at the moment, but feels his team-mates must learn from two seasons ago, when they led the Premier League on New Year’s Day but finished seven points behind the eventual champions.

“We need to learn from that,” he told Arsenal Player. “I remember it very well because we finished the first half of the season (near the top).

“In the second half, we lost a lot of games so we need to learn about that.

“I think the team is different now. We have different players, and are more competitive.

“I think the level of the team is better now and I hope we can do something special this season. At the moment, everything is right so we need to carry on.

“The secret? I will say that we are playing more compact, like a unit.

“The players are playing with more solidarity, all players try to defend. I think this is the (reason for) that.

“We have won the Community Shield, we are second in the Premier League with the same points as Manchester City.”

Arsenal Win 2015 Community Shield At Wembley

Arsenal-Wins-Community-ShieldArsenal on Sunday defeated Chelsea 1-0 to retain the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.

At the end of the regulation time, Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, had a reason to celebrate against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, having failed to win in any of his previous 13 attempts.

In February 2014 the Chelsea boss called Wenger a “specialist in failure”, and then in October the Gunners boss shoved his rival during a heated touchline quarrel.

Alex Oxlade-chamberlain scored the winner with a powerful drive into the top corner with his weaker left foot.

The Gunners named goalkeeper Petr Cech in their starting line-up following his summer move across London while Theo Walcott, who has just signed a lucrative new deal, led the arsenal attack.

It is the first time that Arsenal is beating a Mourinho-led Chelsea side since 2011.

“Will Not Be A Friendly”

Before the match, Arsene Wenger said that the Community Shield against Chelsea “will not be a friendly”.

According to arsenal.com, Wenger admited that a victory in the match, which would be his first against Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, is capable of shaping his team’s confidence for the 2015/16 season.

Having enjoyed a perfect pre-season performance, Wenger hopes his side would maintain their momentum against the champions, but warned against reading too much into the result.

“We have to accept that every game is decided and judged as definite,” he said. “But you know that in real life it is not like that. The tribunal is out there and will draw conclusions from Sunday.

“But no matter, positive or negative (result), we have to continue our way and focus on ourselves.

“It’s a game that is important but it is still preparation. We want to win it and overall it can just give us that little bit more confidence before we go into the season.

“You know, it will not be a friendly as it is like that and it is good like that.”

The Gunners go into the match on a run of four successive victories at Wembley, and having scored 14 goals during pre-season.

The morale of the team would have been boosted by the duo of Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, who have both agreed contract extensions with the English giants.

The victory will be a boosted for the team, as they prepare for the commencement of a new Premiership season.

Rooney Left Out Of Man United’s Community Shield Squad

England striker Wayne Rooney has been left out of Manchester United’s Community Shield squad because of a shoulder injury. The 27-year-old has trained with United’s reserves this week but was not deemed fit to face Wigan at Wembley.

Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are, however, all expected to return for United after missing Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial on Friday.

Wigan are without captain Gary Caldwell but James McClean could make his debut.

Another new signing, Thomas Rogne, is out with a back problem for Wigan, though Leon Barnett and Emmerson Boyce are expected to retain their places in Owen Coyle’s side.

Grant Holt will lead the line for his new club after dropping down a division from Norwich, with Marc Antoine-Fortune also in contention.

Rooney missed Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla at Old Trafford on Friday, having suffered the injury during a behind-closed-doors match nine days ago. But Roy Hodgson’s decision to include the striker in his squad for England’s friendly against Scotland at Wembley on Wednesday appears at odds with United’s stance.

Rooney publicly thanked Hodgson for his “faith and support” in a message on his Facebook account on Friday. “Can’t wait to join up with the England squad and hopefully play in a competitive match, they always are against Scotland,” Rooney wrote.

“Big thanks to Roy Hodgson for selecting me and showing his faith and support, appreciate it.”

Hodgson has already said that he believes Rooney is physically fit but it has now been more than a month since the striker joined up with United’s senior squad since leaving the club’s pre-season in Asia with a hamstring injury.

United insist that Rooney will not be sold this summer, having rejected two bids from Chelsea.