A successful defence of the Community Shield against main rivals Liverpool was the perfect way for Guardiola and his troops to prepare for their visit to the London Stadium to face West Ham.
After a studious well-fought victory, Guardiola has a dilemma on his hands as to how he lines up on Saturday afternoon. Man City owe Claudio Bravo a pat on the back as he played a major part in delivering the club’s first trophy of the season as he pulled off multiple saves to thwart the dangerous Mohammed Salah, and once again showed he can be relied on when it comes to penalties as he decisively saved a Georginio Wijnaldum penalty. Despite a solid performance, I expect Ederson to fill his place back in between the sticks in the league, but hopefully, we get to see more of Bravo in the cup competitions if he can stay fit.
The Community Shield seemed to be a game of two halves, with City getting the better of the first and Liverpool the second. The City backline did well to deal with an extended period of Liverpool pressure after Joel Matip equalised and I think they should keep the back four the same. Kyle Walker, sporting his brand-new skinhead look, looked solid at the back as he pulled off a marvellous overhead kick off the line in the last minute to prevent Liverpool from winning the shield.
He was probably the best defender on the day and is going to need more performances like that if he’s to keep his place in the side after it was rumoured that City were close to a deal for Juventus defender Joao Cancelo. On the other side of defence was Oleksander Zinchenko, he had the difficult task of marking the tricky Salah, and although the Egyptian got the better of him on a few occasions, Zinchenko kept plugging away and went on to score his penalty.
The centre back pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi probably won’t be City’s first-choice pairing, as Aymeric Laporte recovers from a knock, but the two looked comfortable at the back. Otamendi was sometimes dragged out of position but made up for it with a few last gasp tackles, but these two should get another chance on Saturday to stake a claim to be the starting centre back.
A midfield with bags of talent means a selection headache for Guardiola, but one man I think is guaranteed to start is new signing Rodri. Despite not looking at his best against Liverpool as he was caught out a few times in midfield, the holding midfielder is still adjusting to the role and needs to get used to the pace of the game, however, he did play some neat passes and kept City ticking moving forward.
Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, and Leroy Sane made up the attacking midfield options in front of Rodri, and I expect them all to start except Leroy Sane who hobbled off injured in the 13th minute after a lively start to the game. It is incredible to think that City wrapped up the domestic treble last season largely without De Bruyne, but luckily they had Bernardo Silva who stepped up and was named the Etihad player of the season. He seemed to pick right up where he left off as he put in another classy display on the right and kept Andy Robertson busy. De Bruyne and Bernardo linked up well at times, and KDB was a constant threat even though his final pass or shot was a bit off, but if these two can stay fit the whole season, that could feel like a new signing for The Citizens.
David Silva has got us all wondering why this is his final season in City blue, as he played what seemed a faultless performance, with a few classy touches, set up Sterling’s opener and didn’t seem to do much wrong, before being replaced in the 60th minute before being replaced by Gundogan who failed to have the same impact as the Spaniard.
With Sane going off early on, you’d think he wouldn’t be ready to start the next fixture, but when you’ve got an abundance of talent in your squad it almost doesn’t matter. City will look to replace Sane’s starting spot with either Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus with Sterling dropping back to a wide role. Sterling was very dangerous against his former side Liverpool and scored his first goal against them but only poor finishing stopped him from scoring more on the day, so maybe dropping him back to the left and leaving the striker spot for City’s all-time top scorer Aguero, is the best course of action.
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