The community shield (aka the Premier League curtain raiser) this year took place at an unusual venue. Due to the women's Euro final taking place at Wembley Stadium, Manchester City & Liverpool fans had to take a trip to Leicester instead. Premier League champions Manchester City against FA Cup winners Liverpool. We know that when these two sides meet, it’s rarely a dull affair. And this game was no different.
For Manchester City, this was only their 3rd game of their pre-season schedule. After narrowly beating both Bayern Munich & Club America, City named their strongest line-up that they had available on the day.
City fans were glad to see Ederson back in goal after Zack Steffen’s display at Wembley last time out against Liverpool. Their back four was made up of Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias & Kyle Walker. Pep Guardiola confirmed that Aymeric Laporte will be sidelined until at least September due to undergoing surgery in the summer. John Stones was left on the bench.
Their midfield three consisted of Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne & Bernardo Silva, with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez & Erling Haaland leading the attack.
Liverpool went with a fairly predictable eleven. Adrian started in goal due to the injuries of Alisson & Kelleher. The back four was made up of Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip & Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Klopp’s trusted midfield three started in the centre of the park which consists of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson & Thiago, with Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino & Mohammed Salah leading the attack. Darwin Nunez was left on the bench with Klopp confirming that the Uruguayan would feature in some capacity.
It was Liverpool who started on the front foot by taking the game to Manchester City. Mohammed Salah was getting lots of joy up against Joao Cancelo down the right hand side, with Thiago Alcantara causing all sorts of problems in the midfield. In fact, It was those two linking up with each other to set up the opening goal in the 20th minute.
Thiago played a beautiful chipped ball just above the heads of the Man City defenders to find Mohammed Salah on the right wing. The Egyptian takes a touch, then finds Alexander-Arnold with his 2nd touch. The right back strikes it first time, the ball takes a very slight deflection off Nathan Ake’s head, strikes the post & flies into the back of the net.
The equalising goal for City came in the 70th minute. Kevin De Bruyne plays a lobbed pass to find Phil Foden peeling away from Alexander-Arnold. Foden takes a shot which is straight at Adrian...who then appears to have the ball in two hands, but spills it after Phil Foden’s determination to win the ball was too much for the Spaniard. The ball drops to Julian Alvarez who taps it in on his Manchester City debut. The goal was checked by VAR for a potential offside, but it was correctly awarded to Manchester City.
Manchester City were on level terms, but not for long. Darwin Nunez lays the ball off to Mohammed Salah who once again had a lot of space down the right wing. Nunez bursts into the box anticipating a Salah cross, and he was spot on for doing so.
Salah used his weak foot to whip the ball to the back post, meeting the head of Darwin Nunez. Nunez’s header is blocked by the raised hand of Ruben Dias, and after a VAR check, Liverpool are awarded a penalty. Salah steps up, takes a deep breath & places the ball into the right side net out of Ederson’s reach, and they lead the game once again.
With 7 minutes of added time, Liverpool weren’t finished yet. Naby Keita wins the ball back in midfield & gives the ball to Fabio Carvalho. Carvalho drives forward with the ball looking for an opening...he finds Mohammed Salah who once again, proves too much for the Manchester City defence. Salah whips a ball to the back post to find Andrew Robertson who makes a bursting run...the Scottish full back nods the ball across the box to find Darwin Nunez who this time puts the ball into the back of the net after getting down low to score a header. A goal that clearly meant a lot to Liverpool’s big summer signing as he took his top off & ran to the travelling Kop, who were all chanting his name.
WHAT CAN WE TAKE FROM THIS GAME?
Of course the Community Shield is regarded as a glorified friendly by the majority of people. Even Jurgen Klopp said during the week that it’s great if his team wins, but meaningless if they lost.
Liverpool lost the Community Shield back in 2019 yet went onto winning the Premier League title. It was clear to me that Liverpool look the more ready side out of the two title favourites. Manchester City in my opinion don’t look ready just yet. This could play into Liverpool’s hands as we know how crucial it is to get off to a flying start for each side.
The biggest thing I think Liverpool fans can take away from the game, is the impact of Darwin Nunez. After just a 30 minute cameo, Nunez earned his team a penalty & scored the winning goal. He’s come under a lot of scrutiny on social media due to a couple of his pre-season performances, but it was Nunez who had the last laugh.